“When I see police and my friends run, I sit because I know I can’t run, and if police catch me when I run even more problem.”
On the 10th of May 2022, a group of seven people from Pakistan took a bus from the bus station in Bihać (BiH) to the neighboring city Velika Kladuša (BiH). From there the group then continued walking to Vrnograc (BiH), crossed the border into Croatia, and kept on walking until they reached the city Glina (HR). According to the respondent the group was walking from morning time til evening. All seven group members were near Glina in the “jungle” (referring to the forests in the outskirts of the city). They reported being close to a bridge leading across the river Glina.
The respondent explains that the group remembered seeing 5 officers who they identified as police officers close to the road outside of the forest. Reportedly these officers noticed the group of People on the move. Out of fear to get intercepted 5 of the 7 group members started running away, into the forest. The respondent further stated that he could not run due to his health conditions and injuries from previous pushbacks. The police officers saw the respondent and his friend and started running towards them. The respondent recognized batches on the uniforms of the three male police officers and identified them as Glina local police officers.
“The one police was so cruel. So cruel, you know they are […] cruel, police has these big heavy shoes, so hard with steel in them.”
The respondent shared that he sat down when he saw the police officers. He assumed that if the police catch him while trying to escape, it could further escalate the situation. Therefore, as the respondent described, the moment police started approaching him and his friend, the two remaining ones, he sat down and tried to stay calm. “When they see me sitting on the ground, they started kicking me”, the respondent says.
Moreover, the respondent remembers being shouted at and insulted by the police officers while he was being asked questions such as why the respondent’s friends run away. The respondent said that the police officers wanted the respondent to call his friends and make them return to the spot where they were first seen by the police officers. Reportedly, the respondent answered that he did not have a Croatian phone number and that he could therefore not make a call. After this, he said, one police officer hurt him “really a lot” by kicking him while he was still sitting on the ground. The respondent added that the police officer, who was kicking him, was wearing steel-toe shoes.
“I said to police ‘We have some food in the bag’, police said ‘No’, and police kicked us.”
Furthermore, the respondent told that he and his friend were very hungry. He says he asked the police officer if they could have some of the food in their backpacks. According to the respondent, the police officer reacted by saying “no” and continued kicking both, the respondent and his friend. The respondent said that the police officer then made a phone call. From what he understood the officer was calling for support. He understood that the officer was saying on the phone that the additional officers should come to their location as they were arresting two people, assuming that there were more in the forest.
“We asked for asylum, police say ‘No stay, go Italia!'”
The respondent and his friend expressed their intention to apply for asylum in Croatia. The respondent says that the police officers answered to the asylum request with “No stay. go Italia!”. After expressing the intention to apply for asylum, the respondent was told by the police officers to be silent and not to say anything more. The police officer described as “cruel” by the respondent started kicking the respondent again. After that, the respondent explains, that his phone, money, belt, and lighter were taken by the police officers. The police officers then put both persons into what was described as a “deport car” or “coffin” as the respondent called it (meaning a border police van).
In this van, the transit group was driving back to the Croatian Bosnian border. There the respondents were asked to leave the car and forced to cross the border into Bosnia. From the border area, they returned to Vrnograc by walking where they slept one night. Both were left with no money and no phones and started asking for money to pay for the bus to get back to Bihac.
“He kicked me more and more hard, I don’t know why.”
The respondent ended his testimony by raising some questions such as “Why they doing like this with us? They know we are not living in Croatia, but that we want to continue to Italy or Germany.“ The respondent also asks why the Croatian-Bosnian border is such a problem for “them” and if Croatia is in the European Union. The respondent also reported that he cannot walk after the kicking of the police officer as they hurt his knee. He says that he is in a lot of pain.