The respondent, a 54 year-old man from Palestine, was part of a transit group consisting of one other 51 year-old man and himself. The two men were reportedly apprehended by officers identified as North Macedonian police at 6.30am on the morning of 5th July 2023, after boarding a bus to Skopje. Afterwards, the two men and one other person were reportedly taken to a camp for identification procedures and subsequently pushed back to Greece at approximately 8am on the same morning. In the two days prior to the incident, the respondent had already been pushed back two times from North Macedonia to Greece.
The respondent reported that the transit group as well as seven other people, whose nationalities he described as Pakistani and Iranian, were on a bus to Skopje, which was scheduled for 6.10 am. The respondent did not feel comfortable sharing the specific location of the bus station, but he reported that the drive to Skopje would have been approximately 165 kilometres. Reportedly, the bus waited for a few minutes in a station until four officers arrived wearing dark blue uniforms which the respondent described as “police uniforms”. Reportedly, the officers were driving a white and blue car with lights on top and ‘Police’ written on it. The respondent recalled that one officer entered the bus and told the transit group as well as the seven people from Pakistan and Iran to get out of the bus. According to the respondent, all nine people had valid bus tickets but the officer was “racially profiling” them and told them “You, out, out, out”.
The respondent reported that the officers used a big blue van, which he believed to be a Renault or Peugeot, to transfer all nine people to a camp. He explained that there were seats and air conditioning in the back of the van but only a small window at the top, so it was hard to see something on the outside.
All nine people had valid bus tickets but the officer was “racially profiling” them and told them “you, out, out, out”
After approximately five minutes, the van stopped at the camp. The respondent explained that there were containers to live in and he believed the camp to be similar to Greece camps “where people go and apply for asylum”. At the camp, the group reportedly got their fingerprints and photos taken by 6 police officers wearing the same dark blue uniforms. He further reported that the officers were speaking in a language the respondent could not understand, but he noted that there was a translator present in the camp.
The respondent explained that they stayed in the camp for only 15-30 minutes before being transferred to the border. Reportedly, only the transit group and one of the other people were pushed back while the other six people ran away. The respondent noted that they were pushed back through a gate in the fence and reached Greece at around 8am.
During their time in North Macedonia, neither the respondent nor another person from the group applied for asylum. The respondent explained that “nobody asks [for asylum], there is no chance to ask”.