On Thursday, the 31st of March 2020, a group of 25 people were pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia.
All members of the group came from Afghanistan. According to the respondent, 4 to 5 were minors, including one aged of 13. The others were 20 to 40 years old. All were male.
They were first seen near the river Mreznica, near the Croatian city of Potok, by a man, in a tree, who was carrying a “rifle”. This man shouted the group of 25 Afghans to stop. They then started running to escape him. The respondent thinks that this man called the police, because the group was apprehended a few minutes later, around 4pm, by Croatian authorities, around this location : 45.278725, 15.380710.
The respondent describes a convoy of 20 Croatian police officers, wearing blue uniforms, batons and guns. The Croatian authorities forced the group to walk in line, without talking, with their hands on their head. They threatened to beat them in case of disobedience. The 25 people were brought to a place were 2 prisoners transport vans and 5 to 6 smaller cars were parked. The officers forced them to enter the 2 big vans.
After a 20 to 25 minutes long journey, they arrived at a police station, where the police officers took their money, their phones, and their bags (containing all their personal belongings). To make sure they did not have any personal belongings anymore, the police officers forced all of them to undress in public (they could keep only their underwear). The respondent describes the scene as “very humiliating” :
“what they do is fucking horrible, is very bad”, “they fucking make laugh of it”, “all were laughing”.
In addition to this search, photos of their face were taken, and personal information (name, surname, age, country of origin) were asked and written down.
Then, the respondents states that all the 25 people were put into one cell, where they had to stay for the entire night. At 10 am, they were all forced to enter a prisoners transport van, and were driven back to the Bosnian border, near Velika Kladuša. The respondent does not recall the precise location, because his phone was stolen by the police officers at the police station.
When they arrived at the border, they were forced to get off the van one by one. 7 police officers were waiting in front of the van, in line. All 25 members of the group were forced to pass near every officer, even though everyone of them was beating the members with batons. They were also attacked by several dogs.
“One officer starts beating you, and you go to another, another, another and they keep beating you, and the dogs were running after you”. The officers were hitting the head and the back : “All in my back, I had bruises and blood coming out”.
The respondent still has a long scar from this event between the right ear and the right eye.
Before, during and after his detention, the respondent informed several times the officers that he was in Croatia to ask for asylum :
“Please give us asylum, we want to stay here, we don’t want to go to Afghanistan”.
The officers did not take this in consideration and forced them to walk in direction of Bosnia.