The respondent, a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan, left home with his family three years ago. The family is nine in total, with ages ranging from 1 to 32.
On the morning of February 1st, 2022, the family crossed through the mountains of Bosnia on foot, just outside Velika Kladusa, and into Croatia. Unlike most other peole-on-the-move’s plans, the family’s goal was to meet the Croatian police.
“If the police not come [we] go to the police and we will say to the police give me asylum, we want to go to camp, we want to stay.”
Since the police did not find the family at the border they walked inland for an hour, until they reached a church in Polojski Varos. Once there they phoned the police to inform them of where they were located and that they wished to seek asylum.
When the officers arrived they were driving a large white transport van with a police emblem on the side. Two officers got out of the vehicle in dark blue uniforms with “police” written on the back, a description that matches Croatia’s Regular Police. The family again expressed that they wanted to seek asylum and the police told them it would be no problem and asked them to load into the van.
“We say we want to stay in Croatia. The police told me ‘Okay, no problem. We will give you stay, let’s go.'”
After 10 minutes the van stopped and the police opened the rear doors, there were now 7 officers all dressed in dark blue uniforms. Those officers told the family to exit the vehicle. Once everyone was out the officers told them to go back across the border, go back to Bosnia, so the family did.
When asked if the police used any violence during this pushback the respondent told that this time they did not, but that this isn’t always the case.
“If we tell them too much please give us stay they are doing some bad beat.”
The respondent knew the exact location of the pushback, a mountain in Pasin Potok, on the Croatian border. He told me that the family had been pushed back over this area of the border nearly 30 times.
“They [the police] act like we are their enemy. We tell them please give us stay, we have a child that is one year, we have a woman that has asthma problems and they say ‘I don’t care, go back to Bosnia.'”