A group of 17 Iraqi Yazidis fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were dispersed as they tried to illegally enter Europe through Turkey, resulting in the death of two refugees as well as serious injuries among the rest.
Arriving on Tuesday in Turkey’s northwestern province of Edirne, which borders Greece and Bulgaria, the group crossed the Bulgarian border on foot, only to come across Bulgarian police soon afterward. The officers allegedly beat them with nightsticks hard enough to break a few refugees’ legs before sending them back to Turkey, according to testimony from Hacı Halo (29), who was taken into custody by the Turkish gendarmerie on Wednesday after requesting help.
Halo explained how after their brutal encounter with the Bulgarian police, the Yazidi group dispersed upon arriving back at the Turkish border. He carried his friend Dalil Murad İlyas on his back for 5 kilometers, because İlyas’ leg had been broken during the incident. Halo then had to leave his friend near a Turkish village to go seek help from the authorities, but found him dead upon his return.
Authorities were able to find the body of İlyas, who was determined to have frozen to death, and did in fact have a broken leg. Another Yazidi, Mohammed Aldbess, was also found in critical condition and is receiving treatment at the Trakya University Medical School Hospital.
Meanwhile, electrical engineer Mohammed Jawad Kadhim (30) from the initial group was also found dead having frozen to death in the outskirts of Uzgaç Village on the Turkish side of the border.
Gendarmerie teams have been able to locate 10 Iraqi Yazidis in the area so far, and they have been sent to the Edirne Police’s Foreigners Department for deportation processing. The investigation into the refugees’ deaths is ongoing.