On Thursday, the 31st of March 2020, a group of 25 people were reportedly 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 13years old. The others were 20 to 40 years old. All were male.
The respondent explained that 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 reportedly shouted the group of 25 Afghans to stop. They then started running to escape him. The respondent thought that this man called the police, because the group was apprehended a few minutes later, around 4pm, by people in uniforms, around this location : 45.278725, 15.380710.
The respondent described a convoy of 20 Croatian people, wearing blue uniforms, batons and guns. They allegedly forced the group to walk in line, without talking, with their hands on their head. The interviewee added that they threatened to beat them in case of disobedience. The 25 people were brought to a place were 2 vans and 5 to 6 smaller cars were parked. They were reportedly forced to enter the 2 big vans.
After what seemed to the respondent like a 20 to 25 minutes long journey, they arrived at what he described as a police station, where the people in uniform reportedly 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 people in uniform forced all of them to undress in public (they could keep only their underwear). The respondent described the scene as “very humiliating” :
“what they do is fucking horrible, is very bad”, “they fucking make laugh of it”, “all were laughing”.
He stated that 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 respondent reported 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 van, and were driven back to the Bosnian border, near Velika Kladuša. The respondent could not recall the precise location, because his phone was reportedly stolen by the people in uniform.
He said that when they arrived at the border, they were forced to get off the van one by one. 7 people in uniform were waiting in front of the van, in line. All 25 members of the group were forced to pass near all the people in uniform, 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”.
At the time of the interview, the respondent still had 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 people in uniform 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”.
They reportedly did not take this in consideration and forced them to walk in direction of Bosnia.