The group started the journey from Velika Kladuša on the 24th of May around at around 3:00 pm. They walked for two days in the forest, moving at a slow pace because of the baby, the fragile health condition of one the men (the uncle of the interviewee, who had survived a bomb attack back in Syria), and his wife who was pregnant.
On the 26th of May, at 1:00 pm, in a location around 50 km inside Croatia, five Croatian policemen appeared, threatening them with guns and ordering them to stop. The officers searched each of the group-members and confiscating their phones, powerbanks, money, and the camping gas they carried for preparing the milk and water for the baby.
“Can I ask? Is this the system when the police finds me and catches me, they take my phone, is this the system or just bad police?” enquired the respondent at this point. He then described how he got hit in the head with a baton after asking for asylum.
Three days passed the incident, when the interview was conducted, there was still a palpable bump in his head. “I told them we want to go to camp, my uncle is sick and his wife is pregnant, when I said that, they fight me and they fight my uncle, because my uncle he doesn’t want them to fight me.” recalled the respondent, claiming that because of his uncle reacting just verbally to the officer who was assaulting him, another officer came and kicked the man, the situation ended with both officers pointing guns at their heads and telling them to sit down.
The policemen, after ordered everyone one to form a line and enter in the police van. The group was driven, in what the respondent describes as a reckless way, for an hour and a half until the border.
“This driver was a dangerous driver and everything was dark.”
At the Croatian/Bosnian border the group was told to leave the van one by one. Pictures of all the faces, but the baby, were taken and names asked. The group was then told to start walking back to the Bosnian side.
“I asked the police what about our phones, we had five phones, and my 300 euros, but he said he did not know anything about that he did not see any phones. At this point I had to stop talking because the gun is back pointed at my head.”
The man described that his uncle’s wife was the only one able to talk with the officers without being threaten and so she asked for one phone, which was the only one they returned. All the other personal items, including the camping gas for the baby were never given back. The group then walked back for between four and five hours back to Velika Kladuša, where they arrived around 7:00 pm.