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He kicked me like a football

Date & Time 2019-08-31
Location near Tompa border crossing, Hungary
Reported by Escuela Con Alma
Coordinates 46.15207123, 19.53415458
Pushback from Hungary
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 18 - 22
Group size 3
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 12+
Violence used kicking, forced into small dog cage in police van
Police involved more than 12 Hungarian security officers (with yellow vests), 5 police cars

A transit group of Afghan men left Subotica train station (Serbia) at approximately 16:00 on 31st September 2019. They attached themselves to the containers of a freight train, which took them across the Hungarian border to Kelebia train station (Hungary).

An unspecified number of Hungarian police officers approached the train in Kelebia (Hungary), and began checking the upper parts of the carriages. While the Hungarian police was checking the train, the transit group became aware of another train leaving the station. They decided to leave their position, and climbed onto the other train which was accelerating out of the station (a transporter train loaded with pipeline segments). However, as they were climbing onto the new train, some Hungarian police officers spotted them.

‘”Police shouted at us [through a megaphone] ‘stop, stop!’, but we didn’t stop.”

The respondent believes that these Hungarian police officers contacted other officers further along the train route, telling them to check the train once more. And indeed, some ten minutes later, the train slowed down again, very likely at the train stop of Kisszállás (Hungary). As the transit group felt the train slowing down, they jumped off their carriage and hid behind some trees in close proximity to the train. There was a station building on one side of the tracks and an open field on the other.

Soon after the transit group had descended from the train, Hungarian security officers wearing bright yellow vests arrived in approximately five cars and searched the train multiple times. Approximately two hours passed while they carried out this action. The sun went down and the transit group decided to climb back onto the train, hoping it would bring them to Budapest. As the respondent  recalls, they needed to move from their remote location:

“because [they] didn’t have anything for eating.”

They climbed inside the pipeline segments of the same freight train to hide themselves from the police. As the people-in-transit were waiting for the train to start, the Hungarian officers conducted another check of the train. The officers pointed torchlights into each of the pipeline segments, thereby discovering the transit group. The respondent described how the people-in-transit were pulled out of the pipeline segments and thrown to the ground, noting the officers actions as:

“so angry, you know?”

In total, approximately twelve police officers were present. All of them were wearing the yellow vest with the exception of one “big man” who was wearing a regular police uniform. The respondent described this man to be the unit’s leader.

After the transit group had been discovered, they were made to stand close to each other, guarded by seven of the yellow vest officers, while the remaining officers completed the search of the train.

The Hungarian officers asked the people-in-transit whether they had cell phones, and did not search them when they denied having any. Instead the group was made to board the rear of  area of a white and blue police van. The Hungarian officer in regular police clothes kicked the people-in-transit in their backs and legs as they climbed into the van’s rear.

“He kicked me like a football.”

In the van the people-in-transit had to squeeze into a tiny “dog compartment,” which was separated from the rest of the van with meshed wire panels. The respondent states that a time lapse of under five minutes had occurred between their discovery, and the subsequent loading into the van. The van was driven by two yellow vest wearing officers who had taken part in searching the train earlier.

After a 30 minute drive, at approximately 21:00, the van stopped at a gate in the Hungarian border fence, close to the Tompa (Hungary) border crossing (see Figure 1). The respondent described the presence of additional heavily armed Hungarian officers at the fence, who had arrived in cars without police insignia. One of the men opened the gate in the fence, making the transit group step into Serbian territory. The respondent recounted that the transit group was filmed by the heavily armed Hungarian officers as they passed into Serbia.

From the border fence, the transit group walked to the road leading back to Subotica (Serbia). The other two members of the group ordered a taxi, but the respondent walked the three hours back to Subotica entirely on foot. With the last money he had on him, he bought a small bottle of water for the way.

Figure 1: Gate in the Hungarian border fence near Tompa (Hungary)