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When we said there was no space, they started hitting us in front of each other inside the van

Date & Time 2021-10-24
Location near Beba Veche, Romania
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 46.073234, 20.345725
Pushback from Romania
Pushback to Serbia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 17 - 24
Group size 15
Countries of origin Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 4
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 4 Romanian Special Force officers wearing black balaclavas and a black uniform with a red, blue and yellow badge on the sleeve; 1 black van

At 2 am on the morning of Sunday 24th October, a group of 8 male Syrian nationals, including one 17-year-old minor, the respondent, had crossed 100 metres over the Romanian border with Serbia when they were apprehended by two Romanian police officers wearing black balaclavas. The officers’ uniform was also black and said Romanian Special Forces on it; it had a yellow, red and blue arm badge on the sleeve. The officers did not hit the group at first but waited for two more police officers to arrive. During this time they apprehended more people so that the group caught numbered 15 individuals in total. Then they took their belongings and smashed their phones on the floor so that they were not able to record anything with them. The officers returned the broken phones to the group but took their power banks, food, lighters and cigarettes. When the second two police officers arrived in a black van that could fit only 10 persons, they forced all 15 of the group inside the van. The 17-year-old respondent reported that their legs hurt from being enclosed in too small a space and described how: “When we say there is no space, they start hitting us in the van, all of us in front of each other. Some of us in the back, some of us in the front. […] They hit us with a baton. They tried to hit us in the head from behind.” The respondent recalled that during this time the police officer who was driving received a call telling him that there were four more people to apprehend, at which point he became so angry that he threw the phone down and started hitting the group on the head. “We didn’t say anything, if we speak he will hit us directly. He speaks in English, most of them [the other respondents] don’t understand English. I tried translating, he [the police officer] started hitting the people”, he recalled. The respondent then relayed that when they reached the newly apprehended individuals, “He said come in the car and then when he [the individual] entered they started hitting him. When he came out they hit him again. Four times maybe.” In total, the respondent was inside the police van for half an hour before being deported back to Serbia. The Romanian officers drove the group to the border and made them disembark before running after them with their batons and laughing. They cursed them in English and Romanian and shouted ‘Immigration non-stop, immigration non-stop’ and ‘motherfuckers’.