Bulgarian Civilian Vigilante Groups Hunting Migrants

Civilians in Bulgaria have taken to hunting down migrants and handing them to police on so-called “healthy walks.” A group of men in Bulgaria roam the countryside helping plant trees, participating in torch light parades on national holidays and tracking down illegal migrants to turn into the Bulgarian authorities. The group call themselves the  “organization for the protection of Bulgarian citizens,” and were founded by Hristo Atanasov, a cook and self described patriot, Die Welt reports. Atanasov leads the group who go out on weekends donning military fatigues to go on what they call “healthy walks” through the nearby beaches and mountains close to his home in the coastal town of Burgas. Atanasov claims that the group likes to go to the area because of the natural beauty but also because it is a major hotspot for migrants who have come across the border from neighbouring Turkey. The self styled patriot describes the process saying that the group often spots the people smugglers first, “they run 200 to 300 metres ahead to see if the coast is clear,” he said. If the migrants see him and his men they often run away, “they think we are the police,” Atanasov remarked. The patrol leader said that