“You can’t call this a life. We are humans, not donkeys.”

This series of time-stamped posts are from interviews conducted on the 25th of February with various victims of Hungarian police brutality, during two separate crossing attempts on consecutive nights. They were interviewed and recorded on video by a journalist we have been collaborating with, Jaime Alekos, with the support of a translator who wishes to remain anonymous.

Interviewee: 14 years old from Afghanistan [crossed into Hungary the night of 22 February, 2017]

24:01 – When did you leave Afghanistan and why?
24:05 – I fled Afghanistan one year and two months ago. I fled Afghanistan because our life was not good there. I came here thinking that I’d have a good life and then I could go back.

24:27 – How long have you been in Serbia?
24:29 – For about four months.

24:38 – So did it take you one year to come from Afghanistan to Serbia?
24:43 – Yes, it took me one year, I had to spend 6 months in Bulgaria.

24:51 – How is life in Serbia?
24:53 – This is our life, look. If God gave us death, it would be better than this. You can’t call this a life. We are humans, not donkeys.

25:25 – How many people were with you when you crossed the border three nights ago and what happened after you crossed?
25:31 – We were 56 people. We entered into Hungary and waited there for the smuggler’s car to come for four nights, but the car didn’t come and the police arrested us. They walked on our legs, they beat us and told us to tell them who’s the boss, but we said that we didn’t know. They beat us very much with sticks on our legs and they also sprayed us, they released the dogs on us.

26:02 – What was the first thing the police did when they caught you?
26:10 – At the point [where we were waiting for smuggler’s car]?
26:12 – Three nights.
26:16 – And then?
26:19 – It was impossible to stay there anymore because it was raining. And we turned ourselves in to the police.

26:26 – You ask me more.

26:30 – When the police arrested you for the first time, how did they look like and what did they do to you?
26:37 – When they saw us they told us to come and they took out the black batons and started beating us, they asked us to say who’s the boss. They were very angry because we cut the fence. But we said we don’t know who is the boss, and they beat us more. They were punching us and throwing everyone into the puddles.

27:06 – What was the first thing the police did to you when they found you?
27:16 – When they saw us, they told us to come to one place. Once there, they took out their batons and started beating us, asking us to tell them who is our boss. No one answered, and they beat us more and more.

27:28 – When the police saw you first, what did they do to you in the first minutes?
27:32 – They took our shoes, jackets and bags. We were squatting barefoot on the ground.

27:44 – Did they beat you with their hands, feet, batons…?
27:46 – They beat us with everything: batons, kicking, punching… We were in so much pain we couldn’t move.

27:54 – How did they push you back to Serbia?
27:56 – They pushed us back through the gate and sprayed our eyes so we couldn’t go back. Once we crossed back into Serbia, we laid down in Serbian ground for three hours and were massaging each other, helping those who were too injured to walk.

28:13 – Did the Hungarian police cross the fence into Serbian soil?
28:16 – Yes, they crossed into Serbia, three times we tried to cross into Hungary but they saw us [in the fence] and chased us into Serbian soil.

28:27 – Did the Hungarian police make you lay on the ground and after that they walked on you?
28:35 – They told us to sit like this. They started kicking us on our legs, when they kicked someone on his leg, he would lay down. All of us were screaming: please stop beating us. They took all our mobiles and broke them into pieces.

28:52 – How many times did you try to cross into Hungary before? Is it usual what happened to you the last time?
29:01 – I tried two times before. The first time was a little bit better, they were not taking our mobiles and they would just beat us four or five times with the batons and push us back to Serbia. I don’t know what was wrong with them the last time. We are human beings at least.