The respondent is a 39-year-old Iranian man. He started his journey from Bihac (BiH) on March 18, 2019, around noon. He entered Croatia by foot, crossing the border in the forest west of Bihac. The respondent was on his own.
After seven days of walking in Croatia, he reached the Slovenian border near Pasjak (CRO) in the night from the March 25 to 26. In the forest around the coordinates 45.4774601, 14.2226431, he was caught by two Croatian policemen. They were tall and armed with a gun and a baton, wearing black uniforms. They shouted
Then they pointed at him with their guns. The respondent stopped. The police officers pulled out their batons and started to beat him.
“I said ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry!’, but they continued to beat me.”
They were beating him on his head and back and kicked him into his hips and legs. At the time of the interview, ten days after the incident, the man was still in pain and had a bruise on his backside. He was limping and needed a bandage on his right foot and a crutch, as the images show:
The baton the policemen used was electric and sent electric shocks into the respondent’s back. The interviewee demonstrated how his body first straightened and then quivered each time he was hit.
Whilst beating him, the two policemen were at times laughing, at times calling him a terrorist.
“But I said ‘I’m refugee. I just come from Bosnia to here.’ They very, very beat. Five minutes, until they were tired.”
Then, the two policemen made a call, and one more Croatian police man, also wearing black uniform, arrived with a van. The respondent was told to enter the van and the police kicked him once more while he was getting in the backspace of the vehicle. This area had no windows and was lacking oxygen. Although the van was not driving fast, it was driving in many curves, which made the respondent vomit.
After an estimated one-hour drive, they reached what the interviewee believes was the border station of Jelovice (45.509348, 13.968095). It was still night. When he got off the van, he saw trucks and cars crossing the border. He also saw that the van had been followed by the car of the two other policemen who had first detected him.
In the station, there were five other police men, one of whom was female, wearing the same black uniforms. The officers told the respondent to hand over his money and cell phone. They took his money, 100 Euros, and his phone, a Samsung Galaxy. All of was were never returned.
“He took my money and my phone in his pocket. He didn’t destroy the phone because when you have an expensive phone, they keep it for themselves.”
The respondent then had to take off all his clothes, including his shoes and even his underwear. For an estimated five minutes he was totally naked, then they gave him back his clothes.
“They said ‘No go to Croatia, go to Bosnia Bihac’. And they shouted at me ‘Don’t go to Slovenia, don’t go to Italy!’. But I said next time I want to go to Italy.”
The policemen put the respondent into a cell where already ten other people on the move (four Iranians, some Pakistanis and some Somalis) were waiting.
“I said ‘hungry, hungry, hungry’, but they said ‘no food, no food’. They only gave me water.”
The respondent spent the rest of the night in the cell. At the next morning, the policemen came, telling him to sign a paper. The paper was in Farsi and English, not in Croatian. The respondent described the content of the paper was saying something like ‘Don’t go to Croatia the next time, stay in Bosnia’. One of the police officers put the signed paper into his breast pocket, without giving him a copy.
The respondent and his cellmates were then told to enter two vans. He was in a van with the Pakistani men, while the other Iranians and the Somalians were transported in the second van. Again, the backspace of the van had no windows and lacking oxygen. And again, the respondent vomitted.
“It was very dark inside.”
After an estimated six hours drive, they arrived in a forest at the Croatian-Bosnian border. The interviewee located the push-back to the South of Zeljava (CRO) around the coordinates 44.828267, 15.7520597. The men were told to get off the vans and to walk over the border into Bosnia. The respondent started walking with three Somalians.
“There was wind and rain. I was very wet, also my leg was wet. And my leg and my foot hurt a lot. It was dangerous to walk in the forest, very steep.”
After a while, they found a road, and after an estimated three hours walk, they reached Bihac (BiH). It was already dark by that time. The next day March 27, 2019, the respondent took a bus to Sarajevo.