“Forced to spend two nights in a van”

  • Date and time: April 4, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Velika Kladusa
  • Coordinates: 45.1840797, 15.8068421
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: Mid-twenties , from: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, Detained without food or access to toilets
  • Police involved: 2 Croatian officers in dark green uniforms (in line with special police), 5 officers in dark blue uniforms with balaclavas and lights on their heads referred to by the respondent as "bled" group
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water, Forced to remain in van, were never in station
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Unknown
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On approximately the 4th of April, nine individuals were illegally pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. An Afghan man in his mid-twenties gave this testimony.

The respondent set off from Bihac, Bosnia with a group of single men from Afghanistan. On the first day after they entered Croatia, the police discovered the group; 25 people were taken and pushed back. Those who escaped continued on their journey, eventually joining another group.

After a total of 12 days walking through Croatia, they were on a small street near the 65 road in Croatia, when they were ambushed by the police. This time 15 people escaped (it is unclear what the original group size was).

However, the respondent and a friend were on their own after they escaped. They did not either phones or GPS. At this time it started to snow. They went to a village to gather some sticks to make a fire to warm themselves, not knowing what to do. They continued on through Rijeka. Around 6pm, on the road towards Trieste, “commandos” caught them – these officers wore dark green (in line with the uniforms of the special police), greeted them politely, told them they had to leave and took them to the capital city. At some point they discovered that the respondent and his friend had escaped previously and their attitudes changed.

In Zagreb, they were not permitted to leave the vehicle, a van, that they were in. They were given water, but no food, even though they asked for it, being in a weakened state from their long walk and the cold weather. They were kept in the van for two nights and one day and were not allowed to leave the van even to relieve themselves. The man making this report told his friend to use a bottle, to relieve himself, because the police were angry if they did so in the car.

An additional group of seven people, three of whom were Kurdish, were brought to join them in the van. They were then taken to the border where other officers awaited them. These officers wore dark blue uniforms, black masks, and gold lights on their heads – the respondent referred to them as being from the “bled group,” it is unclear what this means.

There were five officers: One to watch, two to check bodies and two to beat the men. The men were called two-by-two. First, they were checked completely, they were forced to remove their clothing and the officers even looked inside their mouths. Then the other officers beat then,

“They used their feet in our stomachs and hands in our face. When they checked our bodies, it’s a full body process.”

The people on the move were told to sit and were then beaten eight times on each leg and once on the back and then on their heads and arms, then they were told to go. This took place at the border near Velika Kladusa.