“They grabbed him and smashed his head against the ground breaking his teeth”

Photo: Laszlo Toroczkai

About one week ago I crossed the Hungarian border near Bački. It was very cold that night but it wasn’t snowing. We went before the snow started. I was in a group of 42–45 people. There were three or four minors amongst us and five to ten elderly people. It was after midnight when the fence got cut and we got through. We were still in the first jungle when we looked back and saw a police car about one kilometer behind us, right in the spot where the fence had been cut. The police saw that. We carried on walking for about one hour, then we saw a main road in front of us. There was a lot of houses alongside it and people living there put their lights on to see who is passing by.

There was a jungle on the other side of the road. We saw police cars there, with their lights on. We saw them from quite far ahead. Policemen were walking through the jungle with their flashlights and we realized they were looking for us. Meanwhile a helicopter came as well. Somebody said we need to hide so we went to the only place we could do that, a field next to the road. They were looking for us for 20–25 minutes. A lot of them, 30–40 officers. The helicopter flew above us and they saw us in its light. It flew around one more time to see if there was anyone else around and flew away.

Five minutes later the police came to us. We were all sitting. I thought that if I’ll be in the middle of the group I won’t get beaten as badly as people on the outside. I got up and moved to the middle. The policemen came to us and started shouting really loudly. Horrible screams and shouts that scared us.

Every one of them had a baton and they went around hitting all the refugees not once, not twice, but numerous times. They were kicking us at the same time. We were all sitting at that point and they kept hitting and kicking us for 15–20 minutes. Some of us got hit so bad that they kept crying very loudly. They’d been beaten so badly. First they were hitting us all in the group after they started doing it individually.

You would think that they wouldn’t hit the elderly and the minors, but they hit them just as much. They didn’t even bother to see who was older and who was younger; they just started hitting us right away.

There was one man. He wasn’t in our group, they caught him separately. They were beating him for half an hour. They were asking: Where is the rest of your group? and he didn’t know. They grabbed him and smashed his head against the ground breaking his teeth. Blood was coming out of his ears and from his nose. His mouth was cut where the teeth had been broken. When they dropped us in Serbia he was done, he couldn’t move. He just laid there on the ground. We carried him to the Horgoš transit zone and they let him stay the night there.

The policemen were humiliating us and laughing at us. They were beating us and joking while doing it. They were saying: Fuck you! Fuck Muslims! Muslims are animals. They put us all in a line and made us sit down. They were asking each of us where we were from. During this they were still hitting us. It didn’t matter if you were in the beginning or in the middle of the line.

Whenever they felt like it, they would hit you. If one of us was sitting in a different way than the others or if the line wasn’t straight, they would drag them out of the line and would beat them and push them back saying: Sit straight! In my whole life I’ve never been that scared. I’ve never been beaten this way and I’ve never seen anyone who was beaten this way.

They started searching through our belongings. They looked in our jackets. Threw our bags on the ground and used their legs to rummage through them, to see what we got. They kicked everything out and said: Pack your bags back up again! They gave us only few seconds to do that, when somebody wasn’t doing it fast enough they would hit them again saying: Faster! They made us take our clothes off during that time and they were still beating us.

Then they made us sit again and gave us our clothes back. They brought a police van around. There was a small sitting compartment inside and they made us sit in there. They took us back to Horgoš and got us out of the van. There was a police dog in front of the door and every time somebody would get out the dog would jump on them, barking and scaring them. They made us stand in a line again and one of the policemen held a can of teargas. Then we saw a police car coming from the Serbian side so he didn’t use it. The car stood at the border on the Serbian side.

They gave us a paper and asked which language do we speak. The paper we were made to read aloud said something like: We crossed the Hungarian border illegally. We know know that we can go legally through a transit zone. And also: if we experienced any violence we can report it – but there was no number or information how we could do that. They were filming us as we were reading. Afterwards they deported us.

The sun had risen when we entered into Serbia. That’s how long they’d spent with us. The Serbian police didn’t ask us if we got beaten. In the early days they used to ask us but now they don’t anymore. They pointed us in the direction of Horgoš. We tried to speak to them but they just told us to go. Nobody asks us. Nobody wants to listen to us.