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They pushed everybody back into the river, forcing them to wade through the chest-high water in underwear.

Date & Time 2024-01-21
Location somewhere around the Turkish villages of Saksagan and Hüseyinpinar.
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 41.886162191108, 26.567067246223
Pushback from Bulgaria
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 19 - 40
Group size 8
Countries of origin Morocco, Tunisia
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 6
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 6 Bulgarian border officers, wearing a green uniform 2 vehicles

The respondent is a 30-year-old man from Morocco. The incident occurred on the 21st of January 2024 around midnight. The respondent alongside his 22-year-old brother-in-law and 6 other people were stopped in their effort to cross from Turkey to Bulgaria where they wanted to apply for asylum.

The group, consisting of four more Moroccan men, one Tunisian man and a Moroccan woman all ranging from the age of 19 to 40, crossed the river running along the Turkish/Bulgarian border between the Turkish villages of Saksagan and Hüseyinpinar.

After they crossed the river they encountered 6 people – which the respondent recognized as the Bulgarian border police due to their green uniforms and the written emblems on it. They spoke English and told the group to not be afraid and that they will not harm them. Accordingly, the respondent and the group then explained their wish to be taken to a refugee camp and claim asylum.

The officers then led the group about 30 meters away from their two vehicles and asked them to undress. They were allowed to keep on their underwear. The woman was separated from the group (about 10 meters away) and asked to do the same. Then they started beating them with batons. They searched all their belongings and took all their money and phones. The group was prepared for an incident like this, therefore some of them swallowed some money wrapped in plastic beforehand.

After that, they pushed everybody back into the river, forcing them to wade through the chest high water in underwear. Once on the other side, the group hid in bushes, afraid to be caught by the Turkish border police and be taken to a detention camp. They tried to warm themselves with lighters and to prevent hypothermia.