On January 2nd, a 27-year-old Syrian man was pushed back from Hungary to Serbia. He was apprehended by seven or eight uniformed men in a forest at sunset. According to the respondent, the uniformed men were made up of three different units, one wearing black uniforms, one brown and one blue uniforms. The respondent was unable to further detail what the uniforms looked like as the uniformed men yelled at him to ‘get on the ground’ and immediately began kicking him. The respondent describes this beating as ‘so much worse than any other time’:
It was like they were playing football with me.
The respondent was in severe pain and reportedly broke two ribs due to this violence. He explained that the pain lasted for over two months. He described that, while he was being beaten and kicked all over his body, he kept expressing that he wanted to apply for asylum in Hungary. He was forced to press his face onto the ground as the uniformed men were shouting ‘Don’t look at us!’ and to protect his face from the kicks and blows. When the men stopped beating him, he was reportedly pulled up from the ground and pushed into the backseat of a police car. The respondent recalled that the number plate of this car began with the letters ‘SK’. In total there were three cars present, two of them were white, while the third one was dark blue. He described they all had Hungarian licence plates. The respondent was locked into one of the white cars – identified by the respondent as belonging to the border police – for around 30 minutes. When he asked for water one of the uniformed men reportedly responded: ‘We are not in a hotel, give me €20 and I’ll give you water’. The respondent detailed that there were uniformed officials who were speaking Hungarian but among the group the conversations were in English. He explained that there was one uniformed man who, to the respondent, ‘looked Arab’ and also told the respondent to ‘Shut up!’ in Arabic. According to the respondent, he was then told to hand over all of his possessions, including his bag, money, charger, mobile phone and extra clothes that he had with him. He was told that he would get his possessions returned to him at the border and was driven to the border with two of the uniformed men. The uniformed men opened the electric door embedded within the fence and on the other side two men in dark blue uniforms, identified by the respondent as Serbian border police officers, were waiting on him. His possessions were not returned and at no point was any of this procedure explained to him.
The Serbian officers walked him to the police station in Riđica from the border fence. At the police station, which he described as a white building around two kilometres from Riđica, he was asked many questions. According to the respondent, the uniformed men took pictures of his eyes and face, took his fingerprints and began asking him questions about his person, as well as why and how he came here. The respondent described how he had to wait for a while until the ‘big boss’ arrived who then asked him questions. He was shown a series of pictures of individuals’ faces and was instructed to answer if he recognised any of those people. The pictures were some camp ID-cards, some pictures taken outside and some were from Facebook and Instagram. One of the faces looked familiar to the respondent so he expressed this, which was followed by the question: ‘Where is his number?’ and ‘Give me his number!’ as well as ‘I hit you if you don’t tell me his number!’. The individual described by the respondent as the ‘big boss’ was threatening to hit the respondent with a black baton.
Every country I go to, they put me in prison.
He reported that, while he was detained in a room, with poor hygienic facilities, no efforts were made to contact a medical professional in order to address the two broken ribs and other injuries perpetrated in Hungary. The respondent described the room as being around 3 meters wide and 2 meters in length, as well as including a desk with ‘lots and lots of paper’ on it. He explained that in the building there were usually around seven men in dark blue uniforms whose shift changed at 20:00 each day. The respondent recalls that the employees of the police station treated him ‘fine’ but wanted to highlight that the Serbian police are usually ‘much worse’ than the Hungarian police.
Serbian police and people hate Arabs, all.
The respondent added that when he was in a temporary reception centre in Serbia, he was given pork to eat for most meals, even though he explained he was a Muslim. In addition to this, the respondent detailed that over the past three years, ten mobile phones have been taken off him at borders by officers.
He was released from detention after two days. The respondent then walked for around 30 minutes into the city centre of Riđica to find a taxi.