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My friends and I were attacked by the police dogs only for not giving the passcodes, in order for the police to take our phones

Date & Time 2023-05-01
Location Between Topçular, Turkey, and Fakiya, Bulgaria.
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 42.098199961717, 27.13923945037
Pushback from Bulgaria
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station unknown
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 31
Group size 10
Countries of origin Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, electric shock, dog attacks, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Between 5 and 10 Bulgarian Border Police officers

The respondent is 31 years old, and from Syria.

The respondent reported he made more than 23 attempts to cross the Turkish – Bulgarian border over a 10 month period approximately between September 2022 and June 2023. The respondent made several of these attempts from the village of Topçular, in north western Turkey. He described that the first time he was apprehended by the Bulgarian Border Police, in October 2022, he was subjected to electric shocks and pushed back to Turkey, where he underwent the same treatment. The respondent was not able to give further detail about his treatment in Turkey. The respondent described the uniform of the Police who detained him as green, with a badge with a golden / yellow lion, a description consistent with the uniform of the Bulgarian Border Police. The respondent stated that there were usually between 10 and 15 Bulgarian Border Police officers.

Over the following three months until the end of 2022, as part of many different groups of people on the move, the respondent was pushed back across to the Turkish border many more times. In December 2022, he was caught by the Bulgarian Border Police along with a group of about 20 people. They were reportedly stripped of all of their clothes in harsh weather conditions, and the respondent described suffering from frostbite symptoms from the snow and ice in his extremities.

The first time the respondent was detained by Bulgarian border police, in January 2023, it was in a very small room that was not fit for detention, along with more than 100 other people. They were kept in the room for many hours, for perhaps as long as 12 hours, although the respondent was not able to say accurately as they had had all watches and mobile phones taken from them. They were not given access to food or water for this time. The respondent stated that in almost all of the detentions and pushbacks, the groups were stripped of their phones and personal bags, along with “all the necessities of the trip” such as their warm clothing and shoes. The police also took all of the groups documents and official papers that were in their possession.

The respondent stated that in all cases when he was apprehended, he and his group were returned to the Turkish border by the Bulgarian Border Police and the Bulgarian National Police. The respondent stated that the Bulgarian National Police had a white lion on their badges, and that the Bulgarian Border Police had a golden lion on their badge. The respondent went on to say that when they were apprehended, it was always the first action that the Bulgarian Border Police took to demand all phones and money in their possession, and to deprive everyone of their passports and personal papers. The respondent further stated that after they had been searched at the scene and deprived of their personal belongings, they were not allow to leave, but were rather returned to Turkish territory, often in military vehicles carrying more than 50 to 60 people. The respondent said these events occurred more or less every time he was apprehended during his more than 20 attempts to cross into Bulgaria.

In May 2023, during the respondent’s final unsuccessful attempt before he was able to enter Bulgaria, his group of 10 to 20 people were caught and detained by the Bulgarian Border Police. The respondent described how they were beaten by Bulgarian Border Police using batons, and the respondent and his friend showed their bruises and marks on their backs, arms and legs from the batons. They were stripped of their phones, and some of the group were asked for their phone passcodes. The respondent stated that when some individuals in the group refused to provide their phone passcodes, the Bulgarian Border Police encouraged and allowed their police dogs to attack them. The respondent stated that once the codes were supplied, the police would change the language to Bulgarian, wipe the phones, and keep them for themselves.

My friends and I were attacked by the police dogs only for not giving the passcodes, in order for the police to take the phones.”

The respondent described how when he first became aware of the police dog, he did not move, as according to his experience if he ran away from the dog or moves quickly, the dogs would chase and bite them. The respondent pointed out the location on the map, near the town of Fakiya in eastern Bulgaria.

When I arrive to Germany, I will tell a story through a series or movie that tells what happened to us during the road and all the trips to Bulgaria.