On the 1st of October, 10 men from Syria between the ages of 18-30 were pushed back near the Serbian village Riđica around 5 AM.
On the 29th of September, the respondents started to walk around 6 PM into the “jungle” (way of referring to forested areas) from the Serbian village of Majdan. After eight hours of walking they waited in an abandoned building near the Croatian border until it got dark the next day. Around 5 PM on the 30th of September, they crossed the Croatian border and walked for 4 hours until they saw the wired fences of the Hungarian border. The respondents told that they had to go through the Hungarian border since there was a river on the route that could not be crossed on foot. While the respondents were resting at the border point and eating some food, they saw 2 men and 1 woman that they thought were Hungarian soldiers, patrolling the area in green-brown military camouflage uniforms. The transit group hid from the ‘solidiers’ while they were searching along the creek bed.
The respondent recalls that as soon as the transit group crossed the border, the same Hungarian soldiers ran and cut them off. While 2 men came from the front, 1 man and 1 woman came from behind. The respondent speculated that the officers had already seen them, however, they hid and waited for them to cross. The soldiers shouted “raise your arms!” and counted how many there were.
They lined up 10 people and forced them to march with their arms in the air until they reached what the respondents refer to as a military building. After lining up the people next to a fence next to the building, they also lit flashlights and asked them to remove their personal belongings, including power banks and phones. The respondents stated that the soldiers were teasing and swearing at some of the people’s personal family photos on the phones, and then they broke everyone’s phone and took the power banks. The respondents also added:
“While they were beating us with their sticks, hitting our arms, legs, and heads, they kept swearing and making fun of us.”
The respondents stated that only one of the four officers, whom they thought was higher in rank and refer to as “commander”, beat them, while one of the other ones was opposing saying “Don’t do it“. The commander started yelling at this man as well, and a short argument broke out between them.
The “commander”, then, hung people’s heavy backpacks from their arms, forcing them to walk two kilometers towards a military post with their hands in the air. One of the respondents reported:
“Just as torture, he wouldn’t let us strap our bags on our backs and forced us to walk by hanging them from our arms and he, the commander, continued to beat us with kicks and slaps along the way. He was trying to break it when he hit our knees and broke the ribs of one of our friends.”
After a long walk, the police station they were taken to was a one-story, grey building with a blue-colored door. The soldiers put the people outside in a fenced-in area; one of the respondents said:
“(…) as if we were animals… Other soldiers continued to make fun of our situation”
While they were detained during the night, for five hours, in this fenced-in place, they were left completely starved and thirsty and were not even allowed to take the food in their backpacks. At midnight, at 3 AM, they were put in a white Hungarian border police minibus with blue writing on it. After they arrived at the Serbian border in around 2-hour, the “soldiers” opened a gate on the fences to push the people back to Serbian territory and they kept making fun of the people even at that moment.
The respondents walked back for kilometers through the jungle without phones and came back to the camp in the Serbian town of Sombor.