A transit group consisting of 29 people from Afghanistan, with ages ranging from 14-26 years old, were pushed back from Bulgaria to Turkey.
The group explained that they travelled from Istanbul to the Bulgarian border, crossed the fence into Bulgaria and walked for approximately six hours until they saw three officers wearing green-coloured uniforms with the Bulgarian flag accompanied by three dogs. The transit group members said they sat on the ground in a circle when they saw the officers. The three officers reportedly came near to them, two of the officers set two dogs on the group while the other officer tied the dog to a tree.
The dogs were aggressively biting us, on our hands and on our legs, and police did not show any humanity while the dogs were attacking us. After 5 minutes they removed their dogs from us and they started beating us with punches and kicks, they asked us to sit on the ground and 1 of them took the belt from his pants and he started beating us with it. Once he stop they took our mobile phones and money and they put them in their pockets.
The officers then reportedly called for reinforcement on the phone, whereby a big truck arrived after what the respondents said was some time. The group recalled that they were put into the track and the door was closed. As there were no windows, the group did not know where they were being taken. They described first driving on an unpaved road and after approximately 30 minutes driving on a paved road, then once again on an unpaved road an estimated five minutes later and drove for what the respondents said felt like 30 minutes.
According to the group, once the truck stopped, they were taken out and saw the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border where approximately ten to twelve officers with the same green uniforms were waiting. The group were reportedly instructed to sit down on the ground:
a police man with a big body like a bodybuilder, he reached us and started beating us with extreme and cruel violence.
After what the group said felt like two hours, they were asked to come close to the fence, which they did one by one. They described when they approached the fence that:
2 police men with a big wooden baton started beating us on the head and they did not stop until they didn’t see the blood coming out from our heads.
Once the beating had stopped, the officers reportedly opened the fence door and the group crossed into Turkish territory. The group said that after the beating, many of the members had sustained head injuries and were bleeding. Five members described being worried about their hands and legs after being bitten by the dogs. The group recalled that after walking for a few hours they reached a village near the border of Turkey and there they saw an old man who helped the group and called a taxi. One of the transit group members remembered seeing the time in the taxi and said it was about 2 PM and that after an estimated four hours of travelling, he arrived back at the house he was staying in prior to starting the journey.
One of the transit group members recalled going to several hospitals the following day to receive proper treatment but was asked for a passport or identity card. As he had no identification documents, he was refused help in each hospital he went to. He reported that within 16 days he tried four or five times to get treatment. He eventually sought treatment from an informal place he described looked like a hospital where a doctor gave him 16 stitches and medicine to apply. He further added that it took 20 days for the wounds to heal and he now has scars on his body.
Picture on the day of the attack
Pictures taken 45 days after the attack