“After five days of walking, seven hours in overheated, windowless vans and two hours in captivity: 18 people from Pakistan are surprised by the "respectful" they encountered”

  • Date and time: May 8, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Breznica in Varaždin County, Croatia.
  • Coordinates: 45.207312973577, 15.818245800781
  • Pushback from: Croatia
  • Pushback to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 18 person(s), age: 17-35 years old , from: Pakistan
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, destruction of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 8 people in dark blue uniform, 1 white car with the inscription "Policija" on both sides, 2 white vans with the inscription "Policija" on both sides, two benches inside the car, no windows in the back.
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, photos taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Blindspots

Original Report

On Sunday, the 8th of May 2022, a group of 18 people from Pakistan was reportedly pushed back from Varaždin in Croatia to Bosnia after five days of walking through the so-called “Jungle” [Forest].

The two respondents from Pakistan (23 and 28 years old) described that they started walking from the Bosnian town of Velika Kladuša on the 3rd of May at 3 a.m. and crossed the Bosnian-Croatian border at around 5 a.m. together with a group of 23 people. The group walked in a line for the whole time and after three days they went out of food and water. Reportedly, one person was hit by a stone and had to continue walking with a provisionally treated laceration to the head. Moreover, the group, of which 5 persons had meanwhile detached themselves, did not get much sleep because they were afraid of animals during the night.

The respondents stated that after five days of walking, the group had to cross a main road and was discovered by a local taxi driver. Only ten minutes later, a white car reportedly arrived at their location (46.083833, 16.276917) and four people in dark blue uniforms with “Policija” written on the back got out of the car. According to the respondents, these people showed their badge to the group and requested them to put all personal belongings on one spot.

“Any mobile phones, put down”, they said, “if anyone keeps the mobile you’ll have a problem”.

After the people in uniform reportedly checked all bags and items of the group, they called for reinforcement. The respondents reported that a white van arrived with the inscription “Policija” on blue stripes and no windows in the back. The two men who got out of this car were wearing dark blue uniforms as well. The group was allegedly forced to get in the overheated van, which contained two benches on both sides and was – as described – far too small for the 18 people who had to squeeze onto the benches or sit on the floor. Reportedly, the car driving was very reckless and many people had to throw up during the ride that lasted for what felt like five to six hours. According to the respondents, the oxygenation was so low that it felt difficult to breath.

The group was brought to what was described as a police station in Croatia. The interviewees explained that at this place, the group was photographed, forced to sign documents which were written in Croatian and not translated to the group. The people in uniform told the group that the documents could be the admission to the camp in Zagreb, which turned out to be a lie. Hereafter, the group was reportedly imprisoned for two hours. The respondents explained that their request for food was denied, but they were supplied with water after all.

Finally, another van reportedly arrived at the so-described police station and after another 1-2 hours car riding, the group arrived at the Croatian side of the Bosnian border near Vrnograč. The respondents explained that the group got handed out their personal belongings, but most of their phones were destroyed. Still, the respondents were surprised that their bags were not set on fire as in their previous attempts and that the men in uniform did not beat them up. The respondents described the behavior of these people as “respectful“, although they laughed about them applying for asylum and rudely told them to leave Croatia: “go, go, go, go fast!“.