At the first encounter with the respondent on the 10th of June, 2021. The 24-year-old Algerian man who already tried the game around 16-17 times, just got violently pushed back from Croatia. Due to the shock and the physical violence suffered he was not able to describe in detail what he went through.
One day later we met again and he was feeling willing to share his story. On June 9th the respondent went by bike from the Bosnian city of Cazin to the border village of Buga (see picture), where he crossed the river Korana which at this location marks the border. As the river at that point is not as high as in other parts the respondent decided to cross, carrying his bike through the water.
After, he walked to the nearest street where he started riding the bike reaching the first road (D217). Following road D217 and then turning on road D1 towards Selište Drežničko where he took road D42 in the direction of Ogulin. Just before the village of Munjava (maps), the respondent encountered a regular traffic checkpoint of Croatian police. The officers were wearing blue uniforms (possibly regular police or border police) and stood next to four mainly white police cars (two “normal police cars” and two SUVs). The police officers stopped the respondent and made him get off the bike.
“The police at the street checkpoint were kind. They asked me where I have this bike from. And I said ‘from Bosnia.’”
At the police checkpoint, the respondent expressed his willingness to ask for asylum. Nevertheless, he was put in a prisoner transportation vehicle by another officer that was called. This officer then drove the respondent to the green border between Bosnia and Croatia.
At the pushback point, he stepped out of the police vehicle and could notice three regular police cars (“like on the street”) and one SUV. He estimates that there was around 10 to 12 policeman in mostly black uniforms (likely Croatian Intervention police). Of the present police officers around 6 to 7 were waiting outside of the cars and after taking his belongings from him (80 Euros, his mobile phone, and his clothes) the police officers started to beat him. He fell to the ground and tried to protect his body from the hits whit his hands.
“I cannot tell you exactly how many beats me because I defended my head and my leg with the arms. I thought it’s better to just have one leg diseased better than two legs”
The respondent was severely injured at his hands, feeds and had a hematoma in his face.
While the police officers beat and kicked him using sticks, the respondent fell to the ground. As he speaks some Croatian, he could understand how the police officers were making fun of him because he used a bike for “the game”.
“They were telling me ‘bicikl Ha? Bicikl Ha?’ and they beat me.”
As the push back took place close to the river Korana the respondent was able to limp to the river and throw himself inside the water to escape from the police officers.
“If I didn’t push myself to the river, maybe I would be in hospital now. They have no mercy!”.
At the Bosnian side of the border (probably in the village of Tržac) he paid a taxi to take him back to Cazin where he called a friend who brought him back to Velika Kladuša, BiH.