The respondent of this report is a 33-year-old man from Afghanistan.
On the 10th of November, he was walking together with four Afghan families. Within the members of the group, there was a 9-month pregnant woman.
Around 4:00 am, a policeman and a policewoman apprehended the transit group only a meters away from the Croatian-Bosnian border in the area of Velika Kladusa. The transit group saw the two officers and decided to hide behind some bushes, but the policewoman and the policeman saw them anyway. They pointed their torches at the transit group and ordered them not to move. Then they phoned other officers, and after 30 minutes a white police car arrived with two policemen in it; both of them belong to the border police. According to the respondent, the policemen started searching the men in the transit group and then asked the other members to hand them mobile phones and power banks. They then ordered them to climb into the back of the van.
Two policemen drove the van for what felt like an hour with reckless driving. At around 5:30 am they stopped the van at the border near Poljana, BiH. Once there, the policemen got out, opened the rear doors, and pointed the lights at the transit group, telling them to get out and return to BiH. One by one, the transit group members got out of the car and the police officers gave them back their mobile phones and power banks.
The transit group then walked for a while inside Bosnian territory and then stopped to rest for a bit and decide whether they wanted to try the ‘game’ again. They described that they felt pressured because the winter is approaching which makes it harder for them to travel. As even the pregnant woman still had the energy to continue, they decided to try it again.
“We had to try again… we must continue because the weather is getting cold in BiH”.
When they passed the border into Croatia and went into the forest, the pregnant woman slipped. Since she could not stand and walk, the men of the group members carried her with a blanket like a hammock. While they were carrying the woman in the forest, a policeman and a policewoman stopped them. “They came out from the jungle with the guns pointed on us shouting to stop and don’t move”.
The uniforms of the two officers were dark blue with the symbol of the Bosnian flag on one side and the written in the back “Policija”, the respondent assumed that they were normal police officers. The officers asked them to hand over the phones and power banks, then searched the bodies of the men in the transit group. The respondents hid a phone in an inside jacket pocket and the officers did not find it. The officers then instructed the transit group to go to a nearby street. As the woman was still in pain, the men of the transit group again carried her with the blanket.
Once on the street, the officers ordered them to line up on one side. Then they called other police officers. After an hour, two Croatian police cars and a white police car arrived. There were two border police officers in each car. The woman was still crying so the respondent, who was the only one who was able to speak with the police since he speaks English, asked to call an ambulance. “They just replied: Kladusa. They didn’t call anyone”.
One policeman started to ask the respondent where he is from, why is he here.
“I said that we are from Afghanistan and that we just want a normal life. We don’t need to go to Europe to have it, we can also live here in Croatia, but they don’t want us. I asked them: where is humanity? But the policeman had a bad reaction; he just replied that Croatia is not for dirty people like us. Croatia is not for animals. Go! Go back to Afghanistan, he said”
In the meanwhile, the other policemen were standing in front of the transit group laughing and speaking in Croatian. Afterward, the policemen ordered them to go inside the van and drove for what the respondent felt was 30 minutes. The back of the vehicle was very crowded and the passengers were feeling very sick. The respondent filmed a video clip that shows the condition inside the vehicle.
They brought the transit group to the border near Velika Kladusa. Once at the border, the two policemen who were driving the van opened the doors and ordered them to get out of the van. The respondent asked again for help, saying: “Please help us, we are not animals, please!”; one policeman replied “We don’t want you here, you are just dirty animals, go back to Kladusa” and then he allegedly slapped the respondent on the neck.
After they were told to cross the border back into BiH, the respondent filmed a short clip of the family walking in the forest, carrying the pregnant woman. The transit group walked back all the way to the city Velika Kladusa.