On the 21st of October at 10 pm, the respondent and the transit group of 13 people walked for two hours from the forest near the border. They were all Syrian and between 16 – 55 years old, with one minor and one woman among them. The minor was without his parents, as they are in Sanliurfa.
The respondent said he did not know where he was, he was following the transit group. They crossed a dried-out river while walking and then another small river before arriving at the fence. That was at 3 am and they waited for 30 min.
At about 3.30 am everybody had passed and they started running on an unpaved road. They were afraid of patrolling control and didn’t want to be seen. All of the transit group got to the same point to hide and started walking. In Bulgarian territory, they walked for 4-6 km for about three hours of walking. One of the men in the group was using maps and the others were reportedly following. In the forest, after crossing a small mountain, the group reportedly saw two car lights from the left and right and tried to hide. But the officers were lightening their torches, started looking, and got close to the hidden spot. They surrounded the group from every side.
Nobody moved, they just stayed where they were, raised their hands to the air, and said “We are Syrian” and “Camp”. The officers lit up their faces with torches and took pictures with their phones.
In total, 8 officers were at the site, all dressed in green pants and sacramento-colored jackets and armed with firearms.
These officers asked the group to stand up and reportedly screamed at them to make them afraid. In lines they had to walk to two green jeeps, the respondent recounted that one was an older model. Something was written in white on the sides in Bulgarian and police was reportedly written on the front.
All of the group were asked in English to pull down their bags, take off all their clothes, and were told that if anyone was hiding money, this person would be beaten up. The officers among themselves spoke a language that the respondent assumed to be Bulgarian. The only woman in the group was not forced to undress, the minor instead was.
The woman was searched by a male officer who touched her body looking for hidden phones or money. As she started crying he reportedly screamed at her and pushed her after he was done searching her.
Meanwhile, the others waited, reportedly completely naked for 30 minutes while their clothing was being searched. The officers took the travelers’ phones, money, and bags with the supplies in them and their shoes. Only pants and shirts were returned. From the woman, they took the phone and shoes.
The officers slapped the respondent a few times to make him move faster when they loaded them in the trunk which was two by two meters in size.
All 13 people were loaded in the trunk so nobody could breathe properly. Also, they reportedly kept colliding with each other. The door of the trunk wasn’t able to close because people were sitting in front of it (in lack of space). One officer reportedly came and hit the people in front of the door to make space and close the door.
As the windows were closed, the respondent couldn’t see outside. They arrived at a push-back point next to the fence. The drive took about 15 min on an unpaved road. The driving was reckless and fast so the respondent kept colliding with the others and hitting their heads against each other. That was around 4 – 5 am.
Five officers were controlling the area and asked the respondent to get out of the truck. They kicked everybody, one officer was reportedly holding a plastic baton with which he hit everybody, even the minors and women. One officer was opening the door in the fence, the other one was beating the group and one was just standing next to the group. All this process took about 20 minutes, everybody was slapped and forced to go back through that door to Turkey. Around the door was a barbed fence, surrounded from all sides with forest.
The group followed an unpaved road for three hours until they arrived at a small village at 6 am, called Sükrüpasa (TR). For another three hours, they waited until two taxis arrived which took 1000 TL from each of the 13 people to take them to Edirne for two hours.
No food or water nor medical care for the old man in the group was provided throughout the whole time. The intention to ask for asylum was expressed but the reaction was just “Shut up!” and screaming.