With the intention of travelling to Zagreb in order to ask for asylum, the group of six crossed into Croatia on the evening of July 10th from an area of the border near Velika Kladuša (BiH). From there, the group walked around 30 km in the interior of Croatia, nearing the town of Glina (HR) (approximate location on the map below).
When nearing the town, the group described being stopped by three police officers in black ski masks, who approached the group as they travelled in a forested stretch of land near a road. The officers led the group out onto the road where they made them wait for some time. Later, the respondent described a considerably large number of police officers and vehicles, given the size of their transit group, arriving to the scene. The respondent described seeing over 20 police officers in total arrive to the location, in seven different vehicles – three vans and four sedan-sized police vehicles. There was no reason apparent to the respondent for this disproportionate response.
After their apprehension, the group was split in two, due to the mother in the group experiencing a medical complication related to her pregnancy. At this point, the mother and her husband were brought in an ambulance to a medical clinic approximately 20 minutes away whereas the two children in the group, along with the two male group-members were taken to the nearby police station in Glina (HR).
After spending approximately one hour at the medical clinic, the mother and her husband were split apart, with the husband being brought to nearby police in Glina, thus rejoining his children and the rest of the group, while the mother was brought to a larger hospital more than an hour away.
The husband in the group described his wife as rejoining the rest of the group approximately two hours later, after spending some time in this larger hospital. She was given several medication tablets during her interaction with the doctors at the hospital, however these were confiscated by the police officers who transported her back to the police station.
“Hospital give tablet, police clipsy tablet”
At one point in the police station, the father in the group, frustrated at the manner in which the officers were interacting with his family and their repeated requests for asylum, shouted to one of the officers “Don’t touch my family!” In response to this, the respondent described that one of the officers took a rectangular taser, which he held in one hand, and jabbed it into the rear end of the father, administering to him an electric shock.
The father described becoming so desperate during their stay in the police station to secure an asylum procedure for his family that at one point he even collapsed down onto his hands and knees to beg the officers at the station to allow his family to access the procedures. They responded, repeatedly, “No.”.
The group spent the rest of the night and the next morning at the police station. Late in the afternoon of July 11th, the group was moved into a van at the police station and driven back to the Bosnian-Croatian border. This journey took approximately one hour.
Once they arrived back to the border, the respondent described that there were four police officers waiting for them on arrival. They wore uniforms consisting of navy blue t-shirts and long black pants. They had a small, sedan-sized police vehicle at the scene which was described as a Volkswagen. Several of the group’s powerbanks and mobile phones were broken by the police officers at this point. In total 130 Bosnian marks were taken from the group, along with 270 EUR, and six packets of cigarettes.
After breaking their phones, the officers ushered them quickly over to a nearby border stone and forced them to go over it, back into Bosnian territory. During this time, the officers were described as using direct and harsh language towards the group:
“Go! Go! Go!”
“This is my country!”
As they arrived to the border stone, the children in the group found it difficult to go over it themselves and took extra time to climb over with the assistance of their parents. The respondent described that in response to this delay in the procedure, the officers became angry.
Finally, the father described that before they were pushed back that he, along with the other two men in the group, were made to take off their pants and t-shirts, leaving them in only their underwear. These clothes were taken and thrown onto the pile of belongings which would later be burnt by the Croatian police. Specifically, they sited their backpacks, sleeping bags, and clothes thrown onto a fire and being burnt. Only the adult group-members belongings were burnt at this point. The children in the group were able to keep their bags and belongings. The respondent described how the officers put their belongings in a pile, poured gasoline on it, and lit it on fire.
The respondent, the father of the children in the group, voiced anger and frustration at the manner in which the Croatian police officers addressed his children during the push-back. He cited a moment in which the officers at the location began to use their guns to usher and point in the direction in which the group should continue. While conducting this behavior, the officers waved their handguns passed the heads of the children, leading them to begin crying.
“My child is cry ‘Papa! Pistol!’”
The group was pushed back near the village of Glinica, approximately 22 km away from Velika Kladusa. The family travelled to the IOM-run Miral Camp, which they were turned away from.