The respondent was a 49-year old woman from Iran. The pushback took place on the morning of the 22nd of March 2022 from Croatia to the north-western territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The transit group consisted of her, her daughter (26 years old), and two young men from Afghanistan (19, 20 years old). They left from the bus station in Velika Kladusa on the evening of 21st of March 2022 at around 8.30 pm. The respondent stated that the group walked through forested areas for about 4 hours. She emphasised that the group could not walk fast because of her physical conditions, such as knee problems and diabetes:
“I’m old, I have Diabetes, I have knee problem, I cannot walk so long”.
The group had planned to rest and sleep from midnight to 3.30 am. However, due to the cold temperatures (minus 7 degrees), this was not possible. The respondent described shivering and being afraid of freezing to death. They continued walking around 4 am and reached the police station of Cetingrad at 5.30 am in the morning. All members of the transit group were asked to give their personal belongings when entering the police station. The respondent asked for asylum as soon as she spoke to a police officer in a dark blue uniform. She remembered at least one police officer being present in the police station, but not the exact number. They were then brought to a detention room, waiting for further action.
The group waited there for what felt like 1 hour to the respondent. Since they were not asked for any fingerprints the respondent expected to be pushed back. After their stay in the detention room, the members of the transit group were asked to get into a large white car with a blue stripe on the side. The description of the car matches those of the prisoner transport vans normally driven by the Croatian border police. The respondent stated that the ride in the car seemed very long to her and after what felt like another hour they stopped and were asked to get out, were handed over their personal belongings, and pushed back with the words “Go, go Bosnia”. There were 4 officers in dark blue uniforms, whose descriptions is matching the description of the Croatian border police.
The final pushback location was at the Croatia-Bosnian border, Staro Selo Topusko, Croatia, near the village of Glinica in Bosnia and Herzegovina (45.212344, 15.929066).
From the pushback location the group had to walk around 6 km to the next road to take a bus back to their starting point in Velika Kladusa. The respondent described that being pushed back so far away from their starting point was a really harsh condition for her, especially because of her physical condition: “Too tired, I could not sit, I could not walk, and I’m too tired”. They took the bus back to Velika Kladusa at 10.37 am from Glininca and reached their accomodation in Velika Kladusa around 12 am.
Being pushed back far from the starting points is a form of violence that can have severe consequences for the mental health state of the people involved in those pushbacks:
“I’m not scared of game, of hills, cold, everything, but deport is too much problem, because after I don’t have any energy, nothing”.