The group of 11 people-on-the-move from Syria left Bosnia at 10.30 am on January 10, 2019, and soon crossed the Croatian border. They walked on the trails, leading through a forest in Croatia. The temperature was around –7°C, and as a result, the drinking water they were carrying froze.
“For the woman who was with us, it was too cold, then we went to walk on the main road, and there, the police caught us.“
After about 11 hours of walking, around 9 pm, the group reached road 1, about one kilometer away from Slunj Croatia. They were apprehended by two male Croatian officers in a car. Shortly after, another car and a windowless, white van arrived. The officers present aggressively demanded that the group of them handed over their belongings, the respondent recounted. The respondent asserted that twelve phones were taken from them as well as the power banks, headphones, chargers and money. The group never received any of these back.
The 11 of them were then driven to a police station, the respondent believes it was in Slunj. There, one of the officers told them:
“If you are nice, we will be nice.”
Nonetheless, the respondent reports that:
”Some were beaten, some were not, at the police station. They humiliated us, we were treated with humiliation.”
The group-members were brought out of the van in small groups, one by one, two by two, and a maximum of three by three. They were taken to the yard of the police station and frisked once more. As the officers frisked the female individual, they found a phone which she had hidden when being searched the first time.
“I’ve a question, is it normal that a man frisks a woman? A policeman frisked the woman, he did it on purpose, just to make us angry. The woman was crying, and they kept frisking her.”
”He pushed her, and she began to cry then he stopped. When she began to cry, he took out his baton, and she had to stop. He was humiliating her [showing with his hand how the policeman was pushing her].”
After around one hour, they returned to the van and were driven back to the Bosnian border. On the way, the 11 of them decided, to run out of the van all together in the same moment when the officers would open the doors.
”The driver drove as a reckless driver, he did it on purpose. Drove from the left to the right. Four people threw up.”
They arrived at the border close to Crni Potok (HRV) and Velika Kladuša (BIH) 1,5 hours later. The driver parked the van approximately 150 meters away from a river on a small road near a forest. Then, the officers made the people-on-the-move enter this river with breast-high water by encircling them.
”They deported us to a place with a small river, they pushed us into it by force.”
”They act with us like animals.”
”There were a lot [of policemen], more than twelve. I don’t know how much, but they were all wearing ski-mask, it was full darkness, even my finger I couldn’t see it.”
The respondent thought that the officers were from the special forces, as they wore black uniforms.
Some individuals managed to run away, but some got beaten.