Very late in the evening of the 6th of March, six men aged between 18 and 24 years old (originally from Morocco) left Glinica (BiH) and crossed the border into Croatia.
After walking for a while, at around 12:30 am on March 7th, the group in transit were walking in a section of the Croatian forest near the village of Crni Potok (HR) (45.240047, 15.88256 HR). One of the group members – who was attempting to navigate the group through a mapping application on his phone – went alone further on the path to check if it was safe for the whole group. The respondent saw an undetermined amount of officers equipped with what he described as “thermal binoculars”. He inferred that it was thermal because it was a dark night and, indeed, as he noticed, it is not possible to see through “normal” binoculars during the night without high tech materials.
The respondent rushed back to his friends and to tell them to go back to Bosnia because he saw police, but almost immediately after returning to the main group, six Croatian officers appeared and surrounded the group. The six policemen were dressed in dark blue uniforms. All were male and two of them wore black ski masks over their faces.
Several officers threatened the group with firearms. The respondent recalled that:
“When the police arrived I was saying to them “please, peace with us, peace” but they weren’t interested on that and pulled guns on us. I heard that they loaded it. One of the officers came to me with his gun and put it directly on my head while he was shouting on me “who’s the leader ? I know it’s you.”
The officer then slapped the respondent in question because he did not find any clear “leader” ; the group was then frisked. The respondents then described being hit multiple times by several officers:
“The officers ordered to us to make a line. We were sitting on the knees on the ground. The police put all our phones, money, power banks and food they found in a big [garbage bag]. After that, we were beaten with iron rods”.
Indeed, according to the group of respondents, those officers were armed with iron rods. The officers hit them with kicks as well. The group-members still had marks on their bodies from this violence at the time that this report was taken. One of the respondents described that their arm was broken from this incident (as shown in the picture above).
“The worst thing is that it wasn’t finish for us. This team of police took also our clothes to make us cold. This is torture.”
After this, the officers forced the group to undress and confiscated the group-members’ shoes, jackets, jumpers, t-shirt, and pants. At this point, the six group-members were left in just their underwear in front of the officers who were described as laughing while watching them. All of their clothes were put in a garbage bag.
After this, almost nude and in a line, the group was brought to a small road path nearby. There, two official vans were waiting for them. The respondents were unable to describe the officers involved inside the vans because “I was afraid and scared and the police forbad us to look at them threatening to beat us more” explains one of them. They just noticed that those policemen were dressed in dark blue uniforms and some of them had ski masks.
The entire group was ordered to go into one of the two vans. A 20-minute-long drive of reckless and inappropriate driving was described. The van was windowless, dark and cold. “One of our friends vomited inside”. After those minutes, the van arrived at a secluded section of the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (45.227696, 15.891313 HR).
The van parked at the end of a path and the respondents were taken out of it one by one. They noticed a number of policemen without but could not recall a precise number. The officers were wearing dark blue and black uniforms and most of them wore ski masks. There was a police car at the site as well, but there were no officers inside.
One respondent explains how the pushed-back proceded :
“They took me the first out of the van. Three policemen came inside, cough me by the collar and threw me outside while they closed the van’s doors with my five friends inside. When I was on the ground, those three policemen beat me during ten minutes with the same iron rods than previously. I think it was about two meters. After what, they carried me until the river where an officer in ski mask was and threw me inside”.
Once in the cold water, the respondent swam until the Bosnian river’s edge and ran until a hidden place where he waited for his other friends, who were pushed back in the same way as him.
At sometime between 4:00 am or 5:00 am on the 7th of March, the six wet and almost nake young men began a search for clothes or shoes in Bosnia, and headed on their way to go back to Velika Kladuša.
“I have nothing to add. I just want to finish this action film. We are the peace. We are not animals”.