The two young Afghani men aged 16 and 18 went on game late in the evening on March 19, 2019. They walked until the Batrovci border and entered a Bulgarian truck, parked just before the border. The next morning, the truck left and passed the Serbian scanner without any interruptions. But just after passing the Croatian one around 9 am, the border police opened the truck and found both respondents. The police officers were numerous, between 15 and 20. When they asked the two individuals to get off the truck, they referred to him as Taliban.
The officers walked with them to a room on the Croatian side of the border, where already four other people on the move were waiting. Everybody was interviewed, asked for family name and first name, the country of origin, and a signature. When the interviewee declared he was 16, the police man wrote down 20.
“I say 16, I am 16 years old. He just write 20 on the paper.”
After two hours waiting in this small room, between five and ten Serbian border police men came and brought the group to a similar room, though this time on the Serbian side of the border. The respondents were locked into one of the many small, windowless cells for around five to six hours. They were left in complete darkness, didn’t get any food or water during this time and were allowed to use the toilet only for one minute. The toilet was located outside, around ten meters far from the room. During their detention no information about the ongoing process of their case was given to them.
Finally, the police transferred them in a ‘Serbian prison van’ (see photo) and drove in the direction of Sid.
“They drive us in a prison van, a Serbian prison van.”
While Sid is located 20 minutes by car from the Batrovci border, the drive took three hours. The backspace of the van was windowless and it was also very cold due to the low temperatures outside, just 1 °C, and no heating inside the van. Both respondents tried to get information about their situation by knocking on the walls, but didn’t receive any answer.
When the van stopped and the police men finally opened the doors, they were in Sid, in front of the Chinese market on Cara Lazara street, located a few meters away from the local police station. The officers ordered them to go to a camp in Belgrade.