“the police officer began firing his gun in the air”

  • Date and time: November 25, 2019 00:00
  • Location: HR border close to Sturlic (BiH)
  • Coordinates: 45.04615651633449, 15.750496218932767
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: Respondent was 30 years old (eight other adults) , from: Pakistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, gunshots, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 22 Croatian authorities, several patrol cars, and three vans
  • 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, Balkan Info Van

Original Report

The respondent, a 30 year old man from Pakistan, along with eight other Pakistani men had been in the Croatian interior for several days. On the 25th November 2019 they decided to stop a car on the motorway 1 and ask the driver to call the police. They could not carry on their journey through lack of provisions and the conditions in the woods and were requesting be returned to BiH. Describing their actions at this point the respondent said:

“coming to the road, stop taxi [member of the public in a vehicle], ‘send me Bihac'”

The driver of the vehicle called the police, who arrived after 20 minutes in several cars. The respondent stated his suprise, that even after voluntarily contacting the
authorities, on arrival one of the police officer began firing his gun in the air and shouting at them to lie down. They were surrounded by seven officers, who ordered the transit group to lie face down on the ground.

The officers proceeded to stamp on the back of the men’s necks with their heavy boots. The respondent explains how he was injured on the hand in the same process, as the police kicked them in this position on the floor.

Inflamation/swelling to hand from foot stamp.
Comparison of swollen left hand, to uninjured right hand.

 

They were held by the roadside while a further eleven officers arrived in three vans described as “combi, [like] this box”. The respondent and the rest of the transit group were forced to give their hats, jackets and shoes which were burnt on the roadside by the officers. The police used a canister of car fuel to light the possessions. The respondent who has issues with his sight and requires glasses, had his spectacles removed by the police and crushed with an officers boot.

Referring to the ordeal, the respondent stated his confusion at the police violence:

“Why fight, I am a farmer”

The officers used batons to beat the group of nine before they were loaded into the three vans. Describing the use of the batons the respondent said:

“inside is steel, outside is plastic” and “big problem police for fighting”.

The transit group were driven for approximately 30 minutes, arriving at a rural border spot which the respondent suggested was south of Sturlic (recognised from the route the group found walking back to Cazin BiH). At the border, four police officers were present as the transit group were unloaded from the van. It was now the evening of the 25th November 2019 and very dark. The transit group were placed at a very steep hill on the border with BiH and the Croatian authorities pointed a torchlight, the respondent recalling how we was told by the officers, “go downside” as he was ordered to climb down the hill into BiH territory.

The group then walked back to Cazin in the dark and the respondent was treated in the hospital for a fracture to his hand. The injury was still causing him severe pain at the time of interview, three days after the pushback.