The respondent headed toward the Serbian-Croatian border around 6:00 pm on the 22nd of February, leaving from the Šid area. He described being part of a group of 20 people from Afghanistan, aged between 16 and 40 years old.
The group managed to cross the border, but around 2:00 am (23rd, February) some Croatian police officers spotted them somewhere near the highway E70 (approximate location: 45.045017, 18.988935).
Reportedly, the group was detected by two Croatian authorities with one normal police car, who would have immediately called other officers to come to the spot. In fact, some minutes later about seven Croatian male officers with black uniforms reached the place with two white vans.
Firstly the authorities asked for someone who could speak English, but anyone answered. The respondent explained all group members being scared that the authorities would have considered the English speakers as “guides” of the group.
Then, the people on the move were separated into two groups, which is why the respondent could not describe the dynamics of pushback of the other group. Although the groups were put in two different vans, the respondent explained that he met some members of the other group the days later, who told him a similar story of being forced to return to Serbia the same night.
Once split into two groups, two officers searched each member. Thereafter the people on the move were ordered to take off the jackets, which were also checked by the officers.
“They searched everything. Everything. Just to put out money, telephones. They got 5-6 telephones and more than one thousand euros…because people carry money with them that they think they need to use. They searched everything..socks, boots..they spent a lot of time to search us”
Reportedly the authorities took the money, mobiles, and all the properties, which were in the member’s bags, like water and food. The respondent explained that the authorities searched them for 30 minutes, then they forced the group to enter a white van. The group spent about half an hour traveling until they arrived close to the Serbian border around 3:00/3:30 am (23rd). At the border only two Croatian authorities were present.
Once there, they were ordered to exit the vehicle one by one. The respondent said that the authorities would have put ski masks covering their faces only when they reached the spot close to the Serbian border (approximate location: 45.055158, 19.101166). Subsequently, each group member was hit by the authorities with batons, one by one with one blow each.
“They (the Croatian authorities) beat us, one stick for everyone (…) Anywhere they liked; some people got (one blow) on their back, some people on their shoulders, legs…”
The respondent described one officer standing near to the vehicle’s door and the other officer beating them and then ordering them to go in the direction of Serbia.
Reflecting on the happens, the respondent shared the following thought:
“They don’t give us stay (…) They deport us even from Slovenia, from Italy…(…) This is illegal, this is not allowed, I think that it’s international law..you can move anywhere, you can ask for asylum anywhere (…) “