The respondent, a 32-year-old man from Tunisia, who had previously experienced 15 pushbacks,was pushed back from Bulgaria (Sladun) to Büyükismailce Turkey on the 3rd of October, 2021.
On the 2nd of October at around 10 pm, he started walking alone to Kapikule in order to get on a heavy truck to cross the border. Early in the morning, at 3 am, he arrived to Kapikule and hid for about 30 min on the side of the road near an oil station. When a truck with the plate insignia “RO” (Romania) arrived, he got on the truck and hid between the tires and the container in a small empty box. The box was 70 cm in size, and was intended to carry truck repair equipment. The respondent locked a small compartment door to avoid being seen, but couldn’t breathe properly inside.
Nothing happened for 3 hours during which the respondent waited in that box. The truck started driving for about 2 km, until 3 officers became aware of him at 4 am as they were scanning the trucks at the border to Bulgaria. All were dressed in blue shirts and pants and a yellow jacket, as the picture below shows.
These officers asked the respondent to sit and wait in English. They themselves started talking to walkie-talkies. They asked the respondent where he was from and whether he knew the driver; he responded that he was from Tunisia and did not know the driver.
These officers kept talking and laughing at the respondent until a green Jeep-like vehicle with 4 officers, all dressed in green shirts and pants, came and loaded the respondent in the car trunk.
The officers had the Bulgarian flag stitched to their arm sleeves and insignia on their chest.
After loading the respondent into the trunk of the car, which was locked from all sides and 2 by 1 meters in size, he was very recklessly driven for about 20 min, 9 km, on an unpaved road. Several times the respondent was banged against the side of the trunk because of the way the officers drove.
At 6 am, the car stopped near the fence, near Büyükismailce. The surrounding area was of unpaved road and forest. Village lights in Turkish territory could be seen.
The officers took the respondent out of the trunk and made him kneel down, asking again where he was from. He said he was from Tunisia; they asked him why he came to Bulgaria. Another officer came, asked the respondent to show his hands, and started hitting him with a branch and kicked him inthe chest. Further, he was asked to get completely undressed. He was made to wait for 30 minutes naked. Meanwhile, the officers kept kicking him and punching him in the face, also using a branch.
All his clothes were searched, one of the officers asked three times for the respondent’s phone, but he didn’t have one. Because of that, the officer slapped him twice, told him “No Bulgaria, No Europe, Go Tunisia”. As the respondent did not have money nor a phone, the officers took all that he had in a small bag, which was some chocolate and 2 small bottles of water. They left him barefoot and only gave back pants and one shirt.
Around 7 am, the officers pulled up a small door in the fence. One officer stood near the door while the other one was behind the respondent slapping his head to move faster. The respondent could not walk properly and was crawling to cross the border. The officers kicked him and said, “Go”. The intention to ask for asylum was expressed but was ignored. It took the respondent 1 km of walking barefoot to Büyükismailce and then further 5 hours and 19 km of walking barefoot to Edirne.