“They told us we get beaten if we look up”

  • Date and time: September 23, 2019 06:00
  • Location: Hungarian border territory near Riđica (SRB)
  • Coordinates: 46.03415503540634, 19.137610404681936
  • Push-back from: Hungary
  • Push-back to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 42 person(s), age: 16-33 , from: Afghanistan, Ethiopia
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: 8 Hungarian police officers (wearing florescent vests) , two white vans
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: photos taken, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring, Escuela Con Alma

Original Report

On the 22nd of September at approximately 15:30, a transit group of 45 people – including 15 minors and one woman – boarded a freight train in Subotica (Serbia). The train did not leave until 23:30 and even before the train left the station, three people exited the train because they felt as if they were dying.

Finally, the train left Subotica (Serbia) and crossed into Hungary where it stopped after approximately fifteen minutes at Kelebia (Hungary) train station. The Hungarian police searched the train but did not find the transit group until one of the people-in-transit knocked on the door because he was afraid to suffocate. Hungarian police officers approached the freight carriage and opened the door. Upon discovering the transit group of 42 people the officers laughed and locked the group inside the carriage for about two more hours. According to the respondent the perpetrators of this act were eight Hungarian police officers present, wearing bright green vests over their dark blue uniforms.

After two hours, by which time it was almost 02:00 on 23rd September 2019, the Hungarian police officers came back and told the group to get out of the train. The people-in-transit had to kneel in a row with their hands behind their head.

“They told us we get beaten if we look up”

After what felt like thirty minutes in this position, the people-in-transit had to stand up, and one of the Hungarian police officers took a photo of every group-member. They had to walk in a row to a garage nearby and were held inside it without food, water or sanitary installations for what felt like three hours.

After the the three hours inside the garage, the group was separated, seemingly at random. According to the respondent, one group of 30 people was taken and (as he later found out) pushed back to Serbia by Hungarian officers. This was done at the border near Csikéria (HUN).

The remaining twelve people, including the respondent, were held in the garage for a further hour. The officer who had transferred the first 30 people returned with a white van and the members of the transit-group were forced to enter. According to the respondent, the van reached its destination at the Hungarian border fence after three hours drive, approximately 06:00. They were then unloaded and ordered through a gate in the face, leading to Serbia. As the group went through the gate in the fence, they were filmed by one Hungarian police officer and were handed out a paper which read that they were being pushed-back because they had illegally entered Hungary.

The group did not know where they were, but according to Google Maps the distance to Subotica (SRB) was 38 km. According to the respondent, there was nothing but soil and they could not see anything recognizable.

After what felt like an eight hour walk through high grass and field tracks, the group reached a village. From the village the group took a bus back to Subotica where they arrived around 16:00.