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They destroyed our phones and powerbank and then took a photo of us with their smartphones saying "Smile for the picture!"

Date & Time 2022-08-24
Location Horgos
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 46.1527346, 19.9655305
Pushback from Hungary
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 22 - 26
Group size 3
Countries of origin Palestine, Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, photos taken
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 3
Violence used insulting, destruction of personal belongings
Police involved "military" and police, 3 cars: a black jeep, Toyota pickup, police car Range Rover, dark green with written "police"

The respondent, departed with 2 other persons from Syrians aged between 22 and 26, from a location near Majdan on Tuesday at 6.30 AM. There was a lot of fog after heavy rain. After 30 minutes of walking the rain started again. “It was hard cause all our clothes and bags were wet”. The group continued, keeping the hopes high. They crossed the Romanian and Hungary borders and took a break in the high sunflower fields, even if it was raining, for 1 hour. The group then continued walking under the rain until 3 AM the next day. The respondent said that when they arrived at the highway, the group stopped under the highway where there was a ditch, to take the water off from the clothes. After sleeping a bit for one hour, the group heard cars passing. They were afraid but stayed quiet, not moving nor speaking. The respondent recalls that a man in uniform he identified as a military officer suddenly arrived behind them, saying: “Hello good morning, come to the car”. He said the officers searched around to see if there were other refugees and caught 2 more groups.

The officers body-searched the transit group, looked if they had phone and money, and searched the bags. While waiting for police to arrive, they took a picture of them using their personal smartphones without explaining why. The officers had pepper spray and knives in their uniforms, and weapons in their hands.

The respondent remembers that a police car came with 2 policemen, wearing light blue uniforms. Three cars were there in total (the ‘military’ had a Toyota pickup, and the police had a black jeep and a dark green Range Rover with “police” in Hungarian written). When the police arrived, the group was squatting on the floor. “We said « It’s very cold we are wet” police answered “we also”. The police officers also body-searched the transit group and took the transit group’s phones in their car. The respondent couldn’t see what happened, but when the policeman gave back the phones, he threw them on the floor with a gesture of disdain. The screens had been broken with knives. The officers also took the power bank in his car and destroyed its power charging units. The informant said it had a cost of 75€ in Turkey and was crying when he saw the result, but at that moment the officer took his phone out to take a photo, telling them « smile ». While this was happening, the military was staying aside the whole time.

According to the respondent, the police insulted the group in English « Shut up mother fucker ». When the officer was taking the respondent’s money, he laughed when he saw his camp card and gave it back. The police didn’t ask for any documents.

A police car came to bring them to the police station. The drive lasted 30 minutes. They waited 1 hour at the police station. Later, they were driven for 1 hour in a large vehicle with around 30 people in total. On the way, before the border, the officers found another group of people on the move from Morocco. The respondent was told that they had been sprayed with pepper spray on their face and gotten beaten by “NATO”. From past testimonies, respondents will often describe Frontex officers encountered in the context of pushback as “NATO”, which could indicate that the “NATO” officer referenced here was in fact a Frontex officer. The transit group was brought to a police station for one hour. It looked like containers or a car garage. There were toilets beside but they were not provided with water, even if they asked. When they showed their broken phones to an officer, he answer « Shut up and go back ». The officers took photos of the respondent and others in the transit group. While the officer was taking a video of all people they caught, he put a little small speaker that was saying something in Hungarian. Then they took two pictures from the front and from the back. In Horgos, they were released around 12pm.