On the morning of the 16th of June, a group of 6 people was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. The group members were all from Iran and included an 11-year-old girl, two teenagers, two men, and a woman.
The group had walked for several days from Bosnia into the Croatian interior and was approximately 8 km away from Zagreb when they were stopped by Croatian officers in black uniforms. The group is certain that the officers were members of the Croatian police. The respondent, an 18-year-old man, remembered:
“We were talking with [the police] and they said, ‘everything is fine, don’t worry’, then they asked where we are from. When we said Iran they changed their mood.”
It was at this point that an officer took the phones and other belongings of the group members. They were told to sit down and not talk. After around two hours of sitting in the sun, two more officers came. The two police cars present at that time had the registration numbers 070_624 and 070_621. The officers asked if the group wanted to claim asylum. The group members replied that they did. The respondent described how the officers, first of all, said “Ok come with us,” then as the group was getting to their feet, the officers laughed at them and said “what are you doing? Sit down. No one wants to give you asylum.” The officers present at this time were four men in black uniforms, three with the word ‘POLICIJA’ in white writing and one with yellow writing – he seemed to be in charge of the others. Three officers were in their late 40s/early 50s, one officer was likely younger and in his 30s.
The group was loaded into a van that had the registration number 100_445. The group was in the vehicle for 1-1,5 hours before arriving at the border with Bosnia. When they came out of the van, 6 officers with batons were waiting for them. The description of the black uniforms and balaclava masks of these officers matches that of the Croatian Intervention Unit. The respondent said “I told my mum and my sister to go on the outside” so that the officers would recognize that they were a family and not use violence against them.
The first officers had taken the respondent’s phone and told him that they would give it back to them. This was not the case, the first officers kept the phone. In order to remember the registration numbers of the cars, the respondent used a piece of broken glass to scratch the numbers into his skin. He has been pushed back several times and is determined to report all the details of the criminal actions.
The officers at the border did not use any physical violence they only sent the group across the border. As the group was left somewhere along the green border the respondent could not remember any location. At first, they thought that they were near Velika Kladusa, but without a phone, they were unable find the way. They walked from 4 pm to 6 am before they finally reached the town.