On the 7th of April 2022, 3 men and 1 minor from Afghanistan were apprehended by the Croatian police authorities on a bus going to Zagreb from the Croatian village of Glina and subsequently pushed back to Bosnia.
On the 6th of April, at 3 pm, the respondents got on a bus that left from the Bosnian town Velika Kladusa and after the 1-hour-journey got off the bus around 2 km away from the Croatian border. From there they walked for 3 hours in what they call the “jungle” [forest]. They crossed the Croatian border around 2 km south of the Bosnian village of Šmrekovac at 7.30 pm. After crossing the border, they waited and slept in the jungle until the next morning. At around 5.30 am they started to walk again towards the Croatian village of Glina. There they bought bus tickets to Zagreb, after 45 minutes of traveling, the bus was stopped by Croatian police officers. The officers were wearing blue uniforms with the word “policija” written on the back. The respondents assumed that it was a regular check to detect people on the move traveling through Croatia. One of the respondents described:
“A Croatian policeman wearing a dark blue uniform stopped the bus and asked us for the documents. I was the only one who have a passport. When they understood that we don’t have any documents they said “Refugees” and then shouted “No Croatia, No Croatia!!” and laughed at us: “Deport, deport!!”. Then another 3 policemen came and they chuck us out of the bus. They throw us away from the bus.”
During the body search of the respondents, Croatian police took their phones and all the money they had from them. The respondent who had a passport related:
“They took everything from us. But I felt so offended especially when they took my passport. It was very difficult for me. I insisted so much and said, ‘Please don’t take my passport’ but they didn’t give it back.”
The respondents emphasized that they clearly expressed their wish to claim asylum several times.
“We said ‘Yes, we are refugees. We are not terrorists, we are not smugglers! We just want to go to Zagreb, let us go.’ But they said, ‘we won’t let you go if you don’t have documents’.”
After the respondents were apprehended they were taken to a police station by a big white Croatian police van. This took about 15 minutes of driving. They were told that they should wait in a room at the station and it took 3 hours until another white Croatian police vehicle arrived with film glass windows. Around 12.30 am, on the 8th of April, the respondents were pushed back around a forest close to the Bosnian village of Glinica.
“Police didn’t come to the Bosnian side, they left us in a forest on the Croatian side. It was so dark and the forest was so dense. I asked for my passport again but they shouted ‘Hajde, hajde!’ They threatened us with their guns and batons. Also, they took us to a very far point at the border. We walked for kilometers to Velika Kladuša”