On the 14th of October at 10 am, the respondent and 4 other men (from Syria, Iran, and Palestine between 25 and 33 years old) drove for 4 hours to get to a village called Elcili near the border. The van was reportedly parked next to the river, they walked for a few meters until reaching a plastic boat of 2 by 2 meters in size.
With this boat, which was too small for the number of people, they paddled at around 6 pm to Greek territory. Water was getting inside the boat and the group was afraid that at any moment, the boat would sink. Once on the other side the group walked for about 2 kilometers into a small forest but saw officers, who must have been noticed them as well. They tried to hide in the forest but they could hear the officers’ voices who were looking for them. The group split from there because two Palestinian men were not able to run and hid in the forest meanwhile the 3 other men started running. They were apprehended by two officers who were dressed in deep blue uniforms and held firearms. The respondent said the uniform was long sleeve and dark blue.
After 10 min another 2 officers reportedly appeared in olive green uniforms.
These officers started beating them and kept telling them in bad English to sit down. Every part of their bodies was reportedly kicked and hit with a plastic baton and a branch for about 10 minutes, the respondent and the group was also being insulted by the officers saying “fuck you malaka”.
After 30 minutes of laying on their stomachs, a blue military-like van arrived at the site.
3 officers were reportedly sitting in the van, all dressed in deep blue uniforms as mentioned above. They spoke Arabic and English to the respondent and the two men with him and Greek with each other. According to the description of the respondent, these men looked Syrian and were fluent in Syrian Arabic. They said “Shut up or we will beat you more” and forced the 3 men to go in the trunk. The drive took about 40 minutes, it was reckless and on an unpaved road. They arrived at what the respondent described as a detention site where 3 other officers took them to a big room. A private car was on site as well. In this big room, other people’s stuff was lying around, like bags and broken phones.
Two officers came to search the 3 men, while the two other officers asked them to get undressed completely. They took phones, money, bags, and all the supplies in it. In total, they took 3.000 euros, 1.000 euros from each. On top, they cut their passports into 2 pieces. Nothing was returned, just their pants and one shirt.
The three men were brought to a cell of 5 by 5 meters in size. The cell was very dirty and smelled bad. One toilet was inside but could not be used as it was too dirty. Approximately 200 to 250 people were believed to be already held in that cell. The age range of the people was between 7 – 60 years old and of Afghan, Kurdish, Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistan, Moroccan, Algerian and Palestinian nationality. 7 women were among them and about 10 children with their parents.
They waited for 4 hours in this cell.
At about 10 pm, the officers loaded everyone in one big white van.
The respondent described 2 vans in total: one white van like the picture above and another slightly bigger blue Mercedes.
Inside the van, they could barely breathe as they loaded all 200 – 250 people into these two vans.
After 5 minutes of reckless driving on an unpaved road, the van arrived at the riverside. 15 officers, some dressed in olive green uniforms and some in blue uniforms were at the site. All of them were wearing balaclavas, one with night vision scopes and another one was armed with a firearm.
Some out of the group were asked to help the officers to prepare the boats. Meanwhile, the rest was reportedly being searched. One officer spoke Turkish very well and asked the people to take out the money, empty their pockets, or otherwise they would beat them up. So everyone started emptying their pockets.
They waited for ne hour silently next to the river. According to the respondent’s description of the surroundings, there was a small island in the river where they were being taken to. On both sides was a forest.
30 people were loaded on each boat, one was 5 by 3 meters in size and the other one 2 by 2 meters. They were taken to the small island. From there, they had to cross the river by swimming / walking to get to Turkish territory.
The water was running fast and on chest level. The respondent was in the second group who was pushed back.
Once at Turkish territory, they walked to Rahmanca, and then further in the direction of Edirne until an old man gave them a ride to Edirne.
“I ran from racism in Iran because I am a Sunni Muslim and I don’t have any rights and because I had an Arabic name. I came here looking for peace and asylum to be safe, me and my family. And all I find is violence and humiliation. What did we do to get all that?”
Throughout the whole time no medical care, water, or food was provided.