The pushback from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina took place on the 7th of February.
The respondent was a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan. His wife is a 19-year-old woman from the Kurdish region in Iraq. The transit group consisted of the two, plus her mother (39), her two sisters (18, 8), two brothers (21, 5), and two single male teenagers (16, 17) from Afghanistan.
The transit group left Velika Kladuša in Bosnia and Herzegovina at 3 am on foot. They walked for two and a half hours, crossing the Bosnian-Croatian border.
The respondent stated that they were apprehended by the police near the Croatian town of Cetingrad. He was able to point to the exact coordinates of the location of apprehension: 45.157970, 15.748667. The officers reached the location with three cars. The respondent described the cars as “normal police cars”. A total of 10 people in dark blue uniforms were on the scene. The description of the uniforms they were wearing, matches the description of the Croatian border police uniforms.
When the police arrived, the respondent tried to ask for asylum:
“And we say: ‘we come to asylum here’. And they say nothing, just smiling, they are like we are dogs.“.
After the men (5) in the group were patted down and the backpacks of the group were searched. Every one of the group was asked to hand over their personal belongings (phones, power banks, and lighters).
The respondent stated that after less than 5 minutes a large white van arrived, the description of which matches a prisoner transport van. Subsequentely,he group got in, they drove for what felt to the respondent like 10 to 20 minutes.
At the pushback location (near Cetingrad, Croatia) two “small cars, like before” arrived at the same time as the prisoner transport van. One of the police officers from one of these cars gave the mobile phone and powerbank back to the respondent. The respondent counted a total of 10 people with dark blue uniforms at this place. Following the description, again Croatian border police.
The respondent stated that the group was sent back to Bosnia with the following words: “And they say: ‘See you again’, like this, smiling‘“.
Throughout the contact with the police, the respondent described being treated with disdain:
“They don’t respect us, (…) we are not people, we are animals for them“.
Even after several attempts to draw attention to the women and children present, there was no possibility for the family to ask for asylum. From the pushback location, they had to walk for three hours to the rain and reached their starting point again at 9 am.
Despite completely soaked clothes and exhaustion, the respondent finished with the following: “But this time, I‘m happy, (…) I go like 11 or 12 games, and they beat me, take my phone, money, all. So this game I‘m very happy“.