“We asked police to put the babies in the car while we lied on the wet ground, but they refused”

  • Date and time: May 30, 2019 03:00
  • Location: Drežnik Grad, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 44.9461324, 15.682583499999964
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 13 person(s), age: 8 month old, 1 year old, 11 people 24-28 years old , from: Iran, Iraq, Turkey
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), gunshots
  • Police involved: 5 Croatian officers, 2 police vans, one police car
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Border Violence Monitoring Network

Original Report

A group of thirteen individuals, all Kurdish from Turkey, Iraq and Iran, left Bihać (BiH) around 4:00PM on May 29. They traveled in a car to the border for about 20 minutes and then began walking.

After crossing the border into Croatia, they walked in the forest for eleven hours. They were standing above a two-lane highway at 3:00AM when two male police officers approached the group and fired a gun in the air.  After firing the gun, the police shone a flash light at the group members and ordered them to lie on the ground.

The ground was wet and cold. I asked them to put the babies in the car, but they said ‘no.'”

The group lay on the ground for 20 minutes as the police waited for a third officer to arrive. He arrived driving a fifteen seat van and the three police officers began to search the individuals on the ground and confiscate all of their mobile phones, chargers, and power banks. The police took one group member’s phone and hit him in the head with it. The same officer hit another man in the face with the heel of his palm as he conducted the search.

The respondent believed that the police spent about three minutes searching each individual making the total time of the search around 30 minutes. The police put all the confiscated electronics in a bag. Once the search was finished, the police ordered the group members into the van. The police drove them for two hours and dropped the group in a forest on the Bosnian/Croatian border at around 6:00AM.

At the border the police seemed to drop the phones in a fire pit, but the respondent believed that

“They only pretended to put the phones in the fire pit. After the police said ‘go, go, go,’ I went back to look for the phones but they weren’t in the pit.”

After searching for their confiscated possessions and not finding them, the group walked five minutes to reenter Bosnia and Herzegovina. They found a taxi near the border and returned to Bihać.