Tales from the Border (3/8): The Story of Serbia – Jalal
Jalal is a migrant from Morocco. He traveled the Balkan route and got across the border into Hungary before he got under a vehicle and suffered “terrible” injuries. Now at a camp in Serbia, he met András Léderer of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and journalist Idro Sefer to tell his story.
This article is part of a series that complements our podcast “Tales from the Border.” The audio feature format consists of eight episodes to be published 11. November 2021 Spotify, Apple podcasts and other platforms.
“My name is Jalal from Morocco. My age [is] 30. I first come from Turkey via Greece to Romania. After that, I go to the Hungarian border in Romania. After that, I make an accident on the street at night. Big truck, it hit [into] I.”
Jalal leans heavily on a cane when András and Idro meet him just outside the migrant transit camp, not too far away Serbian border with Hungary, Subotica. He has come to tell his story to András, a senior attorney at the agency Hungarian Helsinki Committee.
Jalal has been in Serbia for a couple of weeks when the men meet to record InfoMigrants‘podcast Tales from the Border in May. According to his report, Hungarian border guards pushed him back across the border into Serbia and forced him to “crawl like a baby” into Serbia because of his extensive injuries.
Contrary to international law
In addition to injuries, Jalal’s case is of particular interest Hungarian Helsinki Committee because he had not previously been in Serbia when he was pushed back across the border into the country. He had come along The Balkan route from Romania To Hungary, he says, not from Serbia, which means his setback was clearly against international law.
Jalali was hit by a vehicle in Hungary, he says, a big truck. Recalling his memory of what happened to him on the night of the hit, Jalal raises his hand in front and behind and makes “pah pah pah” sounds to mimic the horn of a truck when it hit him.
“I’ll be in the hospital for ten days,” Jalal explains. “I’m making surgery here, [he points at various body parts] and my hand, and my fingers and … that .. side, “Jalal gestures to the side of his body,” and I have a fracture on this side and on my face. I think my whole body is broken. “
András sucks his breath sharply as Jalal pulls out some of his injuries in his t-shirt. “This is the radio,” András says, clearly shocked. But “some of his injuries you probably couldn’t show them on TV. You see … meat..clean meat. […] His flesh is missing all part of his hand. There is a huge injury to his right leg. He can’t walk at all. His left hand is swollen when he had walked through the beehive, his ears look awful because of the injuries he has received there. “
András admits he’s not a doctor, but three weeks after Jalal’s accident, András says he suspects his hip is broken and he can barely walk. Getting a few painkillers to the camp is also difficult, and Jalal’s condition makes it difficult for him to travel to get proper medical help.
Over the years, András has heard countless difficult testimonies from migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, but he admits that Jalal’s story has shocked him to the core. “Regardless of his status, where he came from, whether he applied for asylum or not, you can’t do that to another fellow man,” he explains.
The future in Hungary?
Jalal’s case “raises a lot of legal questions, but it also raises a lot of moral questions,” András says.
According to Jalal, after the accident, he remembers the next time he wakes up in the hospital. At the hospital, Jalal recalls receiving good care. He says he hoped to stay in Hungary. In fact, he says he already has a family, cousins there. “I want to work, I want to do the future, I want to help my family.”
But after ten days in hospital, Jalal was repatriated, put in a police car in a wheelchair he remembers with other immigrants, and then he was taken out of a van near the Serbian border and told to walk to the other side.
Here András picks up the story. “He said that after crossing the border, he spent some time in an abandoned house alone. With injuries like that. With injuries that nurses would normally treat in a hospital, in clean conditions.” It wasn’t until another immigrant told him about the camp that Jalal was helped to get in.
The rage of the sound of Andras is palpable. “Jalal has never been to Serbia before. His family lives in Hungary,” he explains. Hungarian authorities did not call Jalal’s family while he was in hospital. “This is really outrageous,” András says.
Crawl across the border
András begins to explain the problems raised by Jalal. It is alleged that the hospital put him in a van in a wheelchair, but then the wheelchair remained in the hospital. “If you move someone in a wheelchair, you can’t throw him out in the middle of nowhere,” András commented.
Secondly, the fact that he is “being deported collectively from Hungary without any documents to a country he has never visited before is definitely a matter for the European Court of Human Rights,” says András.
According to András, Jalal’s case appears to violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with the inhuman and degrading treatment of another person.
Hopes for a new life
When András takes notes and Jalal answers the questions patiently and quietly, his stoess seems to shine through. According to his account, no one is accused of what happened to him. The pain he still feels is the need to use a cane, which makes each task last much longer than before.
“I have no help,” Jalal tells András quietly in the podcast. And yet he has not given up his dream. As he struggles painfully to get out of the car where he rested to tell his story, Jalal says, “I just want my health to come back as before. Only my health. My body will return the same before. This is my dream now, of my life.” His voice subsides in a whisper. “New life, this is new life. For me, this is life.”
On-site reporting in Serbia and interviews with freelance journalist and filmmaker Idro Seferi and András Léderer from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee which made Tales from the Border three Serbian episodes.