On Wednesday, February 24th, the respondent along with 3 unaccompanied minors (2 male, 1 female) started his journey from Velika Kladusa, Bosnia towards the Croatian border. The group was intending to surrender themselves to the Croatian police upon their arrival inside Croatian soil to express their intention to seek asylum in the country. All group members except for one were carrying documents stating some of their immediate family members are in the camp in Zagreb.
Upon arrival on Croatian territory, the group was apprehended at around 5 PM by four officers in dark blue uniforms. The group expressed their intention to seek asylum in Croatia and presented their documents. They were then taken to an alley nearby, where all group members except for the female member, were asked to remove their clothes. Their clothes and belongings were thoroughly searched. The officers then started striking and punching the group members mostly into their ribs while they were asked to keep their arms open. While searching the group’s belongings and clothes, the officers were specifically saying “money”, asking where they kept their money. In the end, three phones and 100 EUR were found and not returned to the group. Their backpacks and clothes were given back.
After the search, a van described by the respondent as the “deportation van” arrived and took the group to the push-back point. The group had to stay inside the vehicle for around 1 hour, while another group, possibly from Pakistan, was getting beaten before they were sent back into Bosnia. According to the respondent, the whole time they were waiting inside the car, they could hear how the other group was getting beaten, and how the people were whining and crying.
“Getting beaten up is not even the worst part, It’s the psychological torture that destroys you, when they keep you inside a dark van, and all you can hear is people getting beaten up, whining and crying. It only means you are next, that’s a torture.”
After about an hour they were told to leave the car. Outside 5 Croatian officers described by the respondent as “very big and huge” and in dark blue uniforms with ski masks on their faces, started cursing with phrases like ” fuck Allah”, “fuck country”, “fuck Mohammed”, “fuck mothers”. They then started searching the group again, asking for the phones and money, although all the phones and money were already taken away by the first group of officers.
The officers then asked all group members including the female unaccompanied minor to remove all their clothes including their underwear. While they were undressing themselves the authorities were beating them with batons, tree sticks, and punching them. After the search, the group was allowed to put on their clothes. And then, once again, the officers started beating all people in transit, using batons and tree branches. Finally, they asked all group members to lie flat on their stomachs, and the 5 officers started beating them. According to the respondent he was mainly beaten on his ribs, legs, and on his head. One officer then put a knife under the respondent’s neck and threatened him. He then hit him on his head with the knife handle for what felt like 10-20 times.
While walking towards the border point, the group was also getting beaten from behind. At the border point, next to a stone that marks the Bosnian-Croatian border, the officers kicked every group member in their stomach, which resulted in 2 of the minors throwing up. After crossing the border back to Bosnia, some group members could not move further as a result of injuries, the Croatian officers came inside the Bosnian soil ordering them to keep moving.
The group was sent back into Bosnia at around 9 PM, and it took them around 3-4 hours to arrive back in Velika Kladusa.