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You look up and they beat you with the stick

Date & Time 2022-12-09
Location Around a 15 minute walk from Hamzabeyli but on the Bulgarian side of the border
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 41.970076586176, 26.689973117739
Pushback from Bulgaria
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved no
Age 18 - 34
Group size 30
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, dog attacks, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Seven men who were all speaking Bulgarian dressed in camouflage uniforms and black boots. At least two of them were wearing black hats and all of them had pistols and black batons.

On the 9th of December seven men who were wearing uniforms resembling the uniform of the Bulgarian army beat a 24-year-old Afghan man. The uniformed men used a black baton to beat him to the ground. He was with a group of people of around 30, between 18 and 34 years of age. The respondent recounted that everyone he had spoken to within the group was from Afghanistan and that most likely everyone he had not spoken to was also from Afghanistan but this could not be fully confirmed. He recalls that there was one woman present.

The group had been walking all day and even though they had been told that there are active drones in the area by friends, they didn’t see any at the time. The group was somewhere close to Hamzabeyli in Turkey when they crossed into Bulgaria. The respondent describes that the location where they were ambushed by uniformed men was maybe a 15 minute walk away from Hamzabeyli. While the fence separating Turkey and Bulgaria was still visible, they were ambushed by seven men at around 6:30 am. The respondent details how the men made everyone kneel on the ground and told the group not to look up at them or else they would beat them.
The respondent details that the seven men were all dressed in camouflage uniforms and wearing black boots. Reportedly at least two of the men were wearing black hats. They were all speaking Bulgarian amongst themselves and also several times yelled at the group in Bulgarian. There was no translator present. The men were armed with pistols, batons and accompanied with many dogs. The respondent could not recall the exact number of dogs as he was too scared to look up from the ground, as anyone who did so was beaten.

The men in camouflage uniform then searched everyone for their mobile phones and money which they took off them and did not return. They made everyone in the group take off all of their clothes and shoes leaving them in their underwear. The respondent confirmed that the woman was also forced to undress. After they had to undress, the uniformed men took pictures of everyone’s faces with two different mobile phones which they retrieved from their pockets.

Following the pictures being taken, the uniformed men began kicking the group and beating them with the black batons. The respondent first described the batons as ‘sticks’ however upon further questioning followed by the support of images, it turned out that he did not mean a tree branch but a baton. The respondent was unsure whether or not the woman present was also beaten. The respondent details how three people tried to run away. The three young men got up and started running towards the border fence towards Turkey. Following this, the men speaking Bulgarian gave commandos to the dogs and let them off their chains, two dogs began chasing after the three men. When the dogs reached them they jumped up and began biting them, two uniformed men followed them and oversaw the dogs attacking the three men who attempted to run. They did not intervene while the dogs were seriously injuring the three people. The respondent is not sure how long the dogs were let to attack the three young men but after a while the uniformed men brought them back to the rest of the group. The respondent estimates that the whole encounter took around 30 minutes before the men in uniform began yelling at them, telling them to leave and walk back to Turkey in English. The group walked back towards Turkey in their underwear until they reached a town. The respondent could not recall what the town was called and how long they had walked for as his whole body, including his head, hurt after being beaten.