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They beat us with a baton without caring which part of the body they would hit

Date & Time 2019-06-11
Location Orestiada
Reported by Philoxenia
Coordinates 41.50138413, 26.53166788
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 20 - 26
Group size 5
Countries of origin Algeria, Tunisia
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved Unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Greek officers wearing balaclavas

The respondent attempted to cross the Turkey-Greece border in a transit group of five people during the evening in early November. The transit group consisted of the respondent and his four friends. Four of the people were from Algeria and one person was from Tunisia. The transit group was arrested in the Greek city called Orestiada, which is close to the Turkish border, by police officers wearing balaclavas. The respondent describes them as having a strong and broad physique.

These police officers treated the transit group in “a horrific way – inhumane”. He explains there were about five police officers, but he is not able to say for certain as he was being beaten so was unable to look up at the police officers. The respondent recounts that the police officers beat them with batons, broke their mobile phones, took any large sums of money and burnt their sleeping bags. 

“They (police officers wearing balaclavas) beat us with baton without caring about what part of their body they would hit. One of my friends was hit in the head. There was blood. They were treating us in an inhumane way. We are refugees not anything else.”

After the beating, the transit group was tied up and taken to a camp close to the border that the respondent describes as “resembling a prison”. The transit group were put in a dirty, small room that contained around 60-70 people.

“They didn’t provide us with food and the water we drank was from the toilet.”

The transit group stayed at this camp for two nights and were forced to cross the Evros river back to Turkey at midnight (approximately 24:00 on 6th November 2019). The respondent shared that he didn’t know exactly where the camp where he had been detained or the precise pushback site because the police officers broke their phones when the group was arrested (and so he was unable to use a GPS). 

Note:The respondent in this incident stated he had been arrested by police on three attempts at trying to cross the Turkey-Greece border, but this encounter had been far more traumatic. The first two times the respondent attempted to cross the border, he was push-backed to Turkey in a non-violent manner. However, reflecting on this incident the respondent shared the level of violence inflicted during removal from Greece compared to previous experiences.The transit group had been arrested by police officers the previous two times (once in the Greek town, Didymoteicho, and once in the Greek city, Alexandroupoli). On these first two attempts, the police officers brought the transit group back to a Greek camp before pushing them back to Turkey.