A transit group consisting of 48 people from Afghanistan was pushed back from Bulgaria to Turkey on September 13th.
The group explained that they started their journey from Istanbul and travelled for approximately five hours to the Bulgarian border. After they crossed the fence, they walked for an estimated ten hours until they reached road 79. As It had started raining, they crossed the road and took shelter under their plastic covering in the bushes. It was reportedly at this point that a police car passed by the road and stopped and asked for the group to sit down. The group said reinforcements were called and shortly after four police cars and two unmarked black Toyota Hilux pickup vehicles arrived with approximately 20 officers and two dogs. The officers reportedly surrounded the group from four sides, some were described as wearing blue uniforms while others wore black uniforms bearing firearms. One woman and a man were reportedly wearing military uniforms bearing larger firearms. The group added that all uniforms had the Bulgarian flag on them.
After what the group said was a few minutes, they were taken to an isolated off-road track where two dogs were set on the group. One of the group members the dogs started biting the group but he was fortunately not bitten as he was in the middle of the group. After, the officers reportedly pulled the dogs away and then started kicking and beating the group members with their fists for what the group said felt like one hour. It was approximately 2 or 3 AM at this point.
Then they started searching us, they were taking money and mobile phones from all of us, if they founded money and mobile phone they were no beating the person anymore, if the person didn’t had money or a mobile phone then they were beating that person more.
The transit group were searched and had their belongings taken. They said that further reinforcements were called for and within a few minutes, a large black truck arrived. The group were beaten and put into the truck which had no windows so they reported not being able to see where they were being taken. They described driving on a normal road for approximately ten minutes and then on an unpaved road for what felt like 30 minutes.
According to the group, the truck then stopped and when they exited the vehicle, they saw that they were near the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. At the fence were five officers in blue uniforms with the Bulgarian flag and two officers with black uniforms.
They beat us again and they also took the underwear off from some guys and sexually humiliated them.
The group were reportedly ordered to go close to the fence one by one and when they went through the door fence, they were kicked hard on their backs with the officers’ boots.
When they hit me in the back I felt a lot of pain because they were wearing really heavy boots.
After the group crossed into Turkey, they reportedly walked on the road by the fence because they could not walk in the forest without shoes. They recalled that one officer shouted at them to walk in the forest and shot two bullets towards the group but fortunately no one was hit. They then left the road because they were scared of being shot if they kept walking in that direction and walked through the forest and said it was difficult to walk through through the bushes and painful walking barefoot.
The group said that once they reached the first village, they took a taxi and returned to Istanbul.
The violence that they do to us it is against human right, we are just escaping from the war that is happening in our country and we are just looking for a safe place to stay but here the police instead of helping us they savagely attack us.