The group of six men and one woman traveled by foot from Velika Kladuša (BIH) to Croatia, from where they wanted to continue to Italy in order to seek asylum. On their third day of walking along an unmarked forest pathway next to a big river, they got detected by 12 Croatian officers in black uniforms. When the officers saw them, they didn’t ask any questions, and just started shooting around with their guns:
“They only shouted at us: ‘We are police, we are police!‘ and after started shooting around us.”
When the officers caught them, they attacked all men with batons. Afterwards the seven of them were directly transported to the Bosnian border. When they arrived at the border, five officers were standing inside the car and others were waiting for them outside. The officers told them to get off the van and to sit on the ground in one row. Then, the officers started attacking all men with batons again. A young woman, who was also being pushed-back together with the men, was not physically attacked, but was made to sit next to them and had to silently watch the attack.
The respondent tried to speak out and to negotiate with the officers in order to possibly ask to access the asylum procedure in Croatia, but was silenced by hits of batons:
“I did not have the chance to say anything … pfffff … if you speak, they beat you. They took our all money, phones, everything we had.”
When the officers attacked the group, they shouted at them to go back to Bosnia.
The group of seven then walked back to the makeshift camp in Velika Kladuša. The whole push-back took about two hours.