On the 14th of October, 11 people from Syria, aged between 23-37 years old, crossed the Romanian border after walking there from northern Serbia, around 6 am.
At the beginning of the interview, the respondents report that in most of their attempts to cross the border they they were stopped by a “famous” Romanian officer who they describe as a policeman wearing a dark blue uniform, bald and with an earring and a tattoo on his right hand, always carrying his dog with him. The respondents state that they were tired of being beaten and losing money to this man.
In this attempt, they report not to have seen this man. Instead, they state that shortly after they crossed the border, in the early morning light, they first saw a blue-black helicopter – which the respondent described as a police helicopter – flying overhead, and straight after that they were reached by two men in a green military-looking vehicle, wearing green-brown camouflage uniforms.
The respondents thought they belonged to Romanian military forces. They were reportedly carrying two dogs with them, holding firearms and batons, and shouted at the respondents to stop and took the people in a large pit out of sight. Reportedly, they forced the people into this vast pit and took their backpacks, phones, and chargers. While they broke just one of the phones, they “hacked” the other phones by entering a code in the settings of the phones, the respondents thought. They add:
“When they hack our phone in this way, we have to break our phones ourselves because if we use the same phone for the next attempt, it will send a signal to the Romanian police after walking 100 meters on Romanian territory.”
Afterwards, the respondents report that the men they refer to as “military” forced people to take off their clothes, they stole all the money and they took even the cigarettes and lighters, the respondents emphasize. One of them recalls that when he told the officer:
“I took off my pants, is it not enough? I don’t want to take off my underwear” the officer hit him with his baton and forced them to remain completely naked, so that they could find all the money they were hiding in their clothes.
“Even if we hide the money their dogs are trained to find the money and eventually they stole 2600 euros from us”, the respondents say. Accordingly reported, the men in camouflage uniforms kept hitting everybody with batons and threatening them with the dogs, shouting and insulting people as they were naked. After that, the respondents were detained in this pit for almost one hour. Eventually, they were allowed to put their clothes back on and they were forced to run back to the Serbian border while the men were following them with their car, until the Serbian border, near the Serbian village of Rabe, where they arrived at 7.30 am. The respondents state that the last words of one of the officers, referred to as “Romanian soldiers” was:
“If I see you here again, I’ll kill you!”