The 18-year-old respondent from Bangladesh started “the Game” from Bihać, Bosnia together with a group of 31 other people mainly from Bangladesh and Pakistan on the 9th of May.
After 8 days of walking the group was close to highway 36 near the area of Pokupsko in Croatia (45.482289, 15.982426). At around 3 am, the group was walking through the woods when they saw some police officers and decided to stop, sit down, and wait. The group split up into a larger group of 24 people and a smaller group of eight people. The groups were hiding in different locations, but only some meters away from the other group. After approximately 30 minutes the larger group was detected and apprehended by three Croatian police officers with flashlights wearing black uniforms, presumably to be the Croatian Intervention Police (IJP).
When the group was detected the smaller group of eight people started running away. The Police officers took out their guns and shot bullets into the air to hold them from running. Then the police interrogated the respondent about the size of the group.
“The police call me and ask ‘how big is the group?’ I say ‘I don’t know. But other people of the 24 group said that we are 32.”
The police forced members of the group that was with the police to call the rest of the group members that were hiding in the forest. The police promising them that if all group members would join them, nothing was going to happen. Out of the eight people that were still hiding, only four decided to come out of their hideouts.
“The police then stop us and say ‘give me mobile, light, charger’ and I gave them mobile, charger, all… But they promise they would not hit the mobile but they hit it – what they said was not the truth”.
One of the police officers went with a flashlight to look for the remaining four members of the group, that were still hiding. Among them, another respondent of this testimony, a 22-year-old man from Bangladesh. He remembered:
“When the police see me and another two people he says ‘come’ and then he punched and kicked us in the back.”
When finally all 32 group members were gathered by the police officers, they had to stand in two lines. While they were lining up, “two of the Pakistani people talked loud, and police gave them a big kick”. The two persons that were kicked fell to the ground and were kicked several times by one officer onto their legs and backs.
The group of people was then walked to the main road (highway 36) which took them approximately 10 minutes. At the side of the road, a white police van for prisoner transport (without windows) was waiting for them. In groups of 16 people per van, the people on the move were forced to step in. The car did not have enough sitting places for everyone so that four people were forced to stand during the ride.
During the passage to the border (about 30 mins), the AC was turned on cold temperature so that the people inside the van were freezing. At the border, one police officer opened the backdoor of the van while another was holding a flashlight into the face of the people exiting the van. A third police officer was standing at the side with a dog.
The people on the move stepped out one by one of the van and were immediately hit with a wooden stick by one police officer who shouted at them “go”. For the respondents, it was not possible to recognize the faces of the officers at the border because they were covered by black ski masks. Their uniforms were the same as those of the police officers in the jungle (the place they were first detected). The respondent’s group of 16 people had to undress and leave behind their clothes at the push-back place on the border, located approximately two hours walking east of Velika Kladuša.