On the 16th of May, a group of 6 men originally from India crossed into Croatia from Bosnia with intention of crossing through the country in search of a better life in a European country. After walking for four days through the Croatian interior, the men described being stopped by a group of police officers on the morning of May 20th. The group was stopped as they walked on a small dirt road in the wilderness. The officers stopped the group and searched their belongings.
As their belongings were searched, the police officers confiscated the group member’s mobile phones and paper money which they had on them. The group never received these items back.
“They took our everything money mobile”
Some time after their initial apprehension, a prisoner-transport van arrived along the dirt road and the group-members were loaded into it. The respondents described a long drive in the van, a bit less than an hour and a half, which took them to a police station where they were brought inside. The group spent approximately two and a half hours in this station, during which time they had their pictures taken by a police officer, one-by-one, and they were forced to sign a paper which had their personal information logged into it. The respondents did not have their fingerprints taken nor did they express an intention to claim asylum during their time in the police station.
Eventually, while it was still light out, the group was loaded back into a prisoner-transport van and, over the course of a two hour drive, were driven back to the Bosnian-Croatian border, near Šturlić, BiH.
When they arrived to the border, they exited the van and described seeing the Korana river flowing in front of them. They described seeing six officers, five of which had on black ski masks. They were dressed in such that matches the description of the black/dark blue jumpsuits worn by Croatian Intervention Police officers.
“They are 6 men, 5 wore black masks and one was without a mask”
The group-members then described orders by the officers:
“And then deporting time at Šturlić, near a river, they tell us “[Take] off your all clothes” and then they burned everything”
Accordingly, each group-member was forced to take off their clothes and strip down to their underwear. They then described witnessing the officers burn this clothing in broad daylight. The men were ushered to cross the border back into Bosnia and described feeling humiliated, having to attempt to walk back to the town of Velika Kladuša without any clothing on:
“I don’t know any idea how can I go front of people how can I walk like naked”