“Is it finish?”

  • Date and time: July 5, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Staro Selo Topusko, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.22424677316, 15.925303173456
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 3, 28-32 years old , from: Iran
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, theft of personal belongings, throwing of stones
  • Police involved: 1 regular police officer, 1 police car ;3 officers of the Croatian Intervention police, 1 police van, 1 civil car
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

The respondent was on his way to Croatia along with his wife, his three-year-old daughter, and his brother. When the group of four arrived in the Croatian town of Sisak at around 11 p.m., they asked a local resident where the nearest police station was. They wanted to go there to apply for asylum. This citizen showed them the directions and told them that the police station was only 500 meters away. On the way to the police station, they got stopped by a police car. The respondent said that it was a normal white police car with “police” written on the side. He recalls that the driver, an officer in a blue police uniform, asked him where they were heading. The respondent replied that they were on their way to the police station. The police officer’s response to the reporting person’s statement only was: “Why?“. The respondent told the police officer that they were going to the police station to ask for asylum in Croatia. The officer only replied that it was no problem and that they should sit down right at the place and another police car would arrive soon. 

While the family and the policeman waited for the other police car – this lasted about thirty to forty minutes –  the policeman asked the respondent how they got to Sisak. After the waiting, two police cars arrived at the place where the group was sitting. One of the cars was a police van with officers in black clothes and ski masks and the other was a civilian police car with one person also dressed in black and wearing a ski mask. The officer with whom they were already waiting told them that the police van would be driving them to the police station. The respondent assumed that the officer in the civilian police car was the security from the official refugee camp in Zagreb and that they would be taken there. 

The respondent recalled that it was very hot in the police van they were sitting in. After traveling for twenty minutes, the car they were in, stopped. He tried to talk to the police: “My Wife not good, my child not good please open door”. The respondent recalled that one of the police officers then made fun of him. The respondent suspects that they stopped near a restaurant because he could perceive music being played outside – but could not see anything as there were no windows in the car. After a while, they drove on for about 1.5 hours. 

When the doors of the van were opened, the reporting person realized that they had not been driven to a camp, but to the Bosnian-Croatian border. The first people to get out were his wife and daughter. The wife was asked to take off her shoes, jacket, and to hand over her backpack. After doing as ordered, she walked towards the forest. Next, the respondent himself was asked to leave all his valuables (money, mobile phone, power bank) and his backpack, shoes, and belt in the car. After he complied with this request and got out, the van door was closed behind him. 

He pointed out to the officer that he had heart problems and that if they wanted to hit him they should not hit him on the left side. The three policemen took no notice of this and the one policeman even hit him specifically on the left side of his back. The respondent recalls that while the policemen were beating him on the back with batons for five minutes, they were loudly insulting him and his family. The respondent squatted down and tried to protect his head by putting his hands on the back of his head.

After they stopped hitting, the complainant asked the police officers: “Is it finish?“. As the respondent was about to get up to start running, one of the police officers took another swing with his baton and hit the respondent on the back of the head. The respondent then ran towards the place where his wife and daughter were standing. While he was running, the officers threw stones at him. The police then took his brother out of the police van. When the respondent was with his wife and daughter, he covered his daughter’s ears because the three officers started to beat his brother with batons. The respondent recalled: “I listened to my brother he is saying: ‘why, why'”. He heard his brother start crying because of the pain. After the officers had let go of the brother, he joined the other family members. As it was already deep during the night, they decided to spend the night together in the place they had been pushed to. To keep his daughter warm during the night, his wife and brother took off their T-shirts and covered the girl in them. They waited until the next morning to walk towards Velika Kladuša. As they were pushed back into a forested area without any street signs or official paths the respondent was unable to provide a mere location.