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We are just a family, please let us go.

Date & Time 2023-04-18
Location Horgoš
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 46.172257211695, 19.980894193237
Pushback from Hungary
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 4 - 40
Group size 40
Countries of origin Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention photos taken
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 6
Violence used no violence used, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 6 Hungarian police officer: 1 wearing balaclava; 2 blue police vans: 1 equipped with cells inside.

The respondent is a 40-year-old Syrian man. On the 18th of April he left the informal settlement located between the city of Bazdan and the town of Sombor were he was temporarily living with his family -consisting of 2 4-year-old twins and his wife – a pregnant woman aged around 25, and another group of 30/40 Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish people, walking towards the area near the town of Kalebjia. The group crossed the Serbian-Hungarian border between 10pm and 12 am, and then walked “quickly“, the respondent specifies, for more than 20 km.

After the long walk in Hungarian territory, they were apprehended by a man and a woman wearing uniforms, who arrived in 2 vehicles described by the respondent as 2 blue van with no distinguishing marks. The respondent cannot say with certainty either which car it was or what colour it was because it was late at night and dark at that time. The people in uniforms were described as wearing navy blue uniforms with a red patch around the upper forearm, and the respondent identified them as Hungarian police officers. He does not remember the exact point where the officers approached the transit group.

The respondent states that he does not understand how it is possible that the officers were able to track them down, since they were all immersed in darkness. He further states that the group advanced silently without using any source of light. When the two people wearing uniforms intercepted them, the respondent, who speaks very good English, told them:

We are just a family please let us go.

The family was nevertheless forced to sit on the ground with their heads between their knees and their hands above their necks.

After that, the respondent states that the officers made a call, and and four other people wearing uniforms arrived on the place straight after. These 4 people were described as wearing the same uniforms as the one worn by those who first apprehended them. One of the people in uniforms reportedly wore a black balaclava that covered his face and left only his eyes visible. The respondent recalls that the person wearing the balaclava had a canister of chilli pepper in front of his chest, but “he did not used it, this is important” the respondent underlies. This same person then then positioned himself behind the group, according the respondent, this officer had a “preventive function”: “in case one of us escaped, they could have been caught’.

During the time they spent waiting, the officers stood in front of the group smoking cigarettes. The respondent says he asked if it was possible to smoke but the people in uniform shouted at him to shut up. “They were very angry when we tried to communicate with them in English”. Every five minutes, one of the officers would light a torch pointing straight into the eyes of each of the members of the transit group. They waited for the police car to arrive for 20 minutes. The respondent further states that the officers took the backpack of one of the group members inside which they found money, phone and passport, but nevertheless the respondent emphasises that “the important thing for us that they did not beat us because we have children and women”.

Eventually, a new vehicle arrived carrying 4 people on it: it was described as follows: “a very long and tall bus-sized vehicle of white colour with no special marks to recognise it on the bodywork. The vehicle was equipped with many windows fitted with bars forming a thick wire mesh from which ‘you could see absolutely nothing‘”.

According to the respondent, the interior of the vehicle consisted of a multitude of cells, but he could not say how many because he could not see the others while he was locked in his. The respondent was placed inside a cell with his family and the young pregnant woman. They stayed about 1 hour inside the cells before the van left. They had no access to water or food. According to the respondent, as soon as the group of people tried to speak, the officers “started to get angry“. They therefore gave up speaking and remained silent.

They wanted us not to speak and we shut up.

The vehicle eventually stopped at a police station on the border between Hungary and Serbia. The people were forced to get out of the truck under the ‘nervous‘ cheers of the officers. Reportedly, they then started taking pictures of the front and back of every single person present, including minors. The people on the move were then put back into the same vehicle and dropped at the Serbian border- Granicni prelaz Horgos- between 6 and 7 am. The respondent reports that he and his family had to call a taxi to reach the informal settlement from which they had left the previous night.

The respondent ends the interview by saying again that “the important thing is that they did not beat us up even though it is the minimum requirement for treating human beings”.