On August 20, 2021, a group of 7 Afghans including 3 minors left Bihac (BiH) on foot to cross the green border with Croatia and attempt the “game”. The respondent, a minor, reports that the group walked for 7 days, most of the time inside Croatian territory. He remembers with certainty that on August 27th the group was in Hambarište, Croatia, near the road D42 that they had to cross (approximate coordinates
45°21’37.1 “N 15°05’56.2 “E ; 45.360306, 15.098932). He assumes that they were most likely seen by the police while they were crossing the road. The respondent recounts seeing a drone flying overhead the group. Only a few minutes later several police officers, dressed in green camouflage uniforms, according to this description they are most likely members of the tospecijalna Jednica Policija – the Croatian Special Police Team (SJP), arrived in the woods and stopped the group. The respondent reported that directly on the spot all members of the group were beaten with batons and wooden sticks. The interviewee reported that during this procedure they were not asked any questions, and were not allowed to formalize their asylum application. Although one of the group members repeatedly stated that they wanted to apply for asylum and clarifying the presence of minors within the group. “They just yelled at us to shut up, not to say a word. And they beat us up.”
The respondent reports that the group was taken back to the street (D42) which they had recently crossed where now a police car was parked. After a few dozen minutes, a van arrived. He reports that there were 11 officers all in all. He claims that the uniforms of the police officers who stopped the group in the forest were a different color than those of the two officers driving the van. According to the description, the drivers are probably regular municipality police. The group, the interviewee reports, was forced (with baton blows) to enter the van. All 7 members of the group were loaded into the van. The respondent reports that there was no window in the van and it was very difficult to breathe.
“On the way, the van stopped and two more people were picked up. They were also beaten. In the end, there were 9 of us in the van. They drove for 5 hours. We had been walking for 7 days, we were very hungry and very thirsty but they didn’t give us anything. They drove very fast and kept swerving so that we would fall down. Two of my friends got very sick along the way and threw up.”
After 5 hours of driving the group was dropped off at the border, the respondent recounts the exact location, in front of the Bosnian territory (Vikici municipality). Here, according to what the interviewee reports, all members of the group were forced to undress and were left only wearing a t-shirt and their underwear. All their belongings and clothes, including their shoes, were set on fire. The group was threatened violently, to cross the border.
“We were very scared and asked the police not to beat us with sticks. But they didn’t care, they told us to shut up and beat us all up again. I was very fast so they beat me very little, but a friend of mine was beaten very hard, even in the face and on the head. I’ll send you the pictures. He went to the hospital.“
After all this, the respondent reports that the group had to return to Bihac barefoot, walking for 5 hours.