On the 27th of August, a group of 9 people of Afghan origin was pushed back from Road 6 in Croatia to Velika Kladusa, BiH, where they arrived at 7/8 pm. The respondent asserts that the group members had been walking for three days starting in the village of Bosanska Bojna, BiH when they were detected on Road 6 in Croatia. He claims that, as soon as the group members crossed Road 6, they encountered four police officers with two vehicles, “two police in dark blue and two in sky blue [uniforms]”, possibly two Intervention Police officers and two Border police officers.
According to the respondent, the Croatian authorities told them to stop and sit down on the road. After, they asked who the “group leader” was. Subsequently, the respondent recalls that the authorities forced the group members to unlock their phones one by one “to check the way [they wanted to go]”, by examining the locations saved in their Google Maps applications as well as WhatsApp pictures and messages. Then, the respondent claims that the police officers asked the group members to give them all the phones and the money they had, which the respondent estimates were around 200 € in total. One of the men in the group did not hand over all his valuables to the officers. When they realized, after checking his bag, that he had kept his power bank, he got beaten.
“We give mobile and money, but our one friend couldn’t remember that power bank was in his bag and police beat him very badly with a stick”.
The respondent recalls that the stick they were beaten with was “not a normal stick”, but rather a bigger and thicker one, “about 1 meter stick”. The respondent says that, after finding the power bank, the police officers struck all of the group members with a stick and kicked them for what he assumed lasted for 15 or 20 minutes. “15 or 20 minutes we were sitting in the road, and they were putting legs and sticks on us”. He himself recalls having been beaten in the back whereas another group member got beaten on the elbow.
The respondent recalls that the group members were then told to get into the vehicle. “After we went in the car, one friend talked to another friend to give him room in the car and the police said ‘why are you talking?’ and again they made him lay down on the floor and the police [in dark blue uniforms] beat him three or four times”. The group members stayed in the vehicle for what the respondent believed was 1 hour and 30 minutes. Inside of the vehicle the group members encountered difficulties to breathe “We were 9 people and the car had no oxygen, no water”.
In total, the respondent claims that the group members encountered 10 police officers: four police officers detected them next to the road, two other police officers drove the vehicle to the pushback area, where another four other police officers awaited them. The respondent emphasizes that at the push-back location itself the group members encountered again two different types of police officers. “One police was sky color and the other was dark blue. The sky color cannot say anything and the dark one beat everyone up”.
The respondent recalls that in the moment of the pushback there were “two sky blue police officers and four dark blue police officers, with the faces covered”, which points out to the presence of granicna policija (Border Police) – the ones wearing “sky blue” uniforms – and the presence of members of the Ekipa za Posebne Zadace (a special subunit of the IJP) – for those in “dark blue” uniforms wearing ski masks, who the respondent referred to as “Billa group”.
According to the respondent, once the vehicle arrived to the pushback area, the two authorities told them to leave their clothes and bags inside and to get out one by one. “Come one by one and take off bags, jackets, shoes, socks, everything but just one T-shirt and trouser”. The respondent recalls that they were told to hop off the vehicle one by one and that four “dark blue police” with their faces covered awaited them, one holding a dog on a leash that the respondent claims was “3 or 4 meter long”. The respondent recounts that the group members were then asked to hop off the vehicle and run towards the border passing through the four EPZ members, who randomly struck the group members with the batons two or three times. “Two sticks, three sticks, it’s your luck”.
Moreover, the respondent explains how the EPZ official loosened the dog’s leash letting the dogs run after every group member, scratching and biting them and, therefore, causing some serious injuries to some of the group members. “You came near to the dog, they open the leash and the dogs come after you”.
The respondent recollects that one of the group members was beaten badly on the bottom and the back and that, as a consequence, he could not walk properly. “A friend fell on the floor and the dog jumped over him. He’s very deadly eaten, he can’t walk now”. The respondent says that the group members have lost contact with him as he was so injured that he had to stay in Velika Kladusa camp upon their arrival there.
The respondent says that, after being pushed back to Velika Kladusa, some of the group members walked for 15 hours back to Bihac.