Migrants at the border between Serbia and Romania | Photo: Reuters
Migrants at the border between Serbia and Romania | Photo: Reuters

Adama* contacted InfoMigrants to talk about what he experienced on arrival in Romania. Beaten and humiliated by Romanian police after crossing the border from Serbia, the 36-year-old Malian is still traumatized by the violence he suffered.

Adama*, originally from Mali, arrived in Morocco in 2018 on a tourist visa. Two years later, with the help of a friend, he obtained a new visa for Serbia. On November 2, 2020, the 36-year-old boarded a plane and landed in Belgrade in the hope of reaching France by road.

He failed to get across the border to either Hungary or Romania many times. Each time, Adama was stopped by police and sent back to Serbia, without being able to file for asylum. On January 13, he tried his luck again with two other people he met in a Serbian migrant camp.

"Around midnight, I climbed over the barbed wire fence and crossed the Romanian border. I tried to hide in the nearby forest with my friends, to avoid police checks. But we had already been spotted and border guards were looking for us in the trees. When they found us, they immediately started hitting us on the head with their truncheons. They hit me very hard, it hurt.

They ordered us to put our hands up and walk out of the forest. When we reached the hill where their vehicle was parked, they told us to stop. They made us stand in front of their car with the headlights on us and their torches shining in our faces. A few minutes, later their chief arrived.

'They started hitting us again'

Acting on orders from him, the other policemen brought us to our knees and hit us again with their truncheons. Then they searched our bags and patted down our bodies to make sure we weren't hiding anything. They took all our money, I had 100 euros on me. They ordered me to take off my jacket, my shoes and socks.

It was very cold that night, the road was snowy. I was left barefoot and wearing just my jumper, I was shivering.

They made a fire and put all our things on it to burn: our clothes, our gloves, our hats, all our documents, our wallets, our phones, everything.

'I was crying'

I got back down on my knees, I was crying. I apologized and asked them to forgive me. I was so cold. They finally took my jacket out of the fire and gave it to me, but part of it was burnt.

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Afterwards, the policemen told us to lie on the ground, face down. They started hitting us all over our bodies again for about an hour. One of my friends had his finger dislocated.

They finally picked us up and told us to walk back towards Serbia, which was only a few meters away. The chief called the Serbian police to come and pick us up. But we had to wait another hour, still in the freezing cold. It must have been around 3am.

'If I see you again I'll kill you, I'll dig a hole and put your body inside.'

In the meantime, the chief ordered us to do push-ups. The ground was frozen, I didn't have gloves on. With the exhaustion and the cold, I couldn't hold myself up and kept falling over, so the chief hit me again. He then made us do other exercises: we had to crouch down and get up as quickly as possible. Then he said to us, 'Don't ever come back here again. If I see you again, I'll kill you, dig a hole and put your body inside.'

The Serbian police didn't arrive, so the Romanian chief told us to cross the border alone. He and his team watched us for a long time with their torches fixed on us to make sure we were really leaving Romanian territory.

We walked for several hours into Serbia until we found an abandoned building beside the road. We stayed there for a while to regain our strength. We took a bus in the early morning to Belgrade and we reached the migrants' center.

'I am still traumatized'

I am still traumatized by this story, I often think about it. I was sore from the beating whenever I moved for several days. Now I know that when you enter Romania, you are a dead man walking.

I couldn't sleep for several nights. I had nothing left: no more clothes, no more money, they took everything.

I will never forget the faces of those policemen, especially the chief. How can a human being hurt another human being so much, without any reason? They could have sent us away without mistreating us."

*The first name has been changed.