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Everything was taken from all of us

Date & Time 2023-03-17
Location On road 79 south of Burgas, Bulgaria
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 42.373851279593, 27.270289527124
Pushback from Bulgaria
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 22 - 31
Group size 22
Countries of origin Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, threatening with guns, dog attacks, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 8 Bulgarian military officers, described as "Commandos" wearing green uniforms and black ski masks

The respondents are two 31 year old and 22 year old men from Syria traveling with a group of 2o other Syrian men. There were no women or children in their group.

The respondents described that they were making their way North East towards the village of Burgas, Bulgaria, staying close to the highway 79, when they saw police vehicles and ran to hide in the woods near the road. It was around 9PM. According to them, the vehicles, that they identified as two police vans, were green. They reported that they were then searched for and eventually apprehended by 8 Bulgarian uniformed people, that they identified as military officers -“Commandos”-, wearing green uniforms and black ski masks. A few of the officers reportedly had night vision goggles on, and they were the ones leading the group. The respondents reported that, after they were captured, they put the goggles back inside the car. They also had dogs with them.

The respondents described that the officers first let the dogs attack them. At the time of the interview, the respondent had several scars on his right forearm from the dog attacks. After the apprehension, the authorities searched each man by having them kneel on the ground. They reportedly took money, papers, backpacks, shoes and food. One of the respondents said he had 10 euros on him, but other people in the group had more. While they were kneeling on the ground they were repeatedly beaten by two officers with batons and the respondent was also kicked in the ribs. He described that the dog continued to attack them while they were kneeling and that the officers did not stop the dog. The respondant said guns were used to command the group, but no fire arms were fired.

The respondents reported that the officers were screaming at them but did not know what they were saying. They were put into two dark green vans and driven to the border with Turkey. The two men described that they were not told where they were going and repeatedly asked for their phones back. The officers did not respond to any of the questions.