“"We're humans, not animals"”

  • Date and time: June 17, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Unknown village in Croatia, across the border from Sid
  • Coordinates: 45.12243660000001, 19.2209294
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 20 person(s), age: Reporter 18; others young men, exact ages unknown , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 3 Croatian border police; 8 Croatian special forces; 3 Serbian police
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Unknown
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

One night during the third week of June, a group of 20 young men crossed the border from Serbia into Croatia in the border area outside the town of Sid, Serbia. The young man, who was the primary respondent in this report, is 18 years old. His group walked on foot in Croatia for around two hours and were in a small village at which point they were stopped by three Croatian police officers wearing bright blue shirts and black trousers.

The respondent described that very soon after their apprehension, the police immediately became violent with the group and began to beat them. “We are human, not animals,” the young man recalled saying to the police, but they did not hear, they just continued to abuse them, kicking him like a football, he describes. All but two or three of the young men were beaten.

The border police called additional units whom the reporter described as wearing olive drab uniforms (he referred to them as “special forces” which is line with his description), eight of whom arrived and marched them to the jungle where they then beat them, too. He does not remember how long this went on. The police just beat them until they were tired.

Much of the beating was done to their legs, so they could not walk. One young man was made to lay with his face on the ground and the officers beat the back of his head. His face was injured so badly that one of his friends had to take off his t-shirt to staunch the bleeding. They were hit with batons and fists and kicked. Their phones were broken, their power banks taken and the 80 to 120 Euros each man had on him were pocketed by the officers (it is unclear whether the border police or special forces).

Eventually the Serbian police were called and the Croatian officers said something to them that the reporter did not understand. They too slapped the young men, but “only two or three times.”

At the time he gave the report, the young man still had bandages on his arm and legs, he has no photos of the others, for which he apologized and said, “I am not mad, I did not do this to myself.” The worst of the injuries appear to have been internal. He and his friends could not eat for three days; they could not move their hands or legs, they felt nothing but pain. Even two weeks later, the young man is in frequent pain where he was beaten.