On the evening of November 6, 2018, the respondent traveled along with a group of four from Velika Kladusa (BIH) towards the Croatian border with the intention to cross the country towards Slovenia and then continue to Italy. Along the way, they met another group of people on the move who were also intending to cross, so they followed that group for a while. At a certain point the groups split up, one headed to the left and the other to the right. At around 5.30 pm the following night, the respondent’s group arrived at an area around 500 meters away from the Bosnian-Croatian border, between the villages of Buhača (HRV) and Zagrad (BIH), and hid itself in a forest on an elevated spot, offering a view of the border. There, they settled down to rest for around four hours. The respondent then saw a police car driving back and forth several times on the Croatian road at the border. Scared, the group remained sitting in silence for another hour. It was then 10.30 am on the following morning, November 7, as they still waited for the car to leave. However, soon another police car joined it. The group watched a female Croatian officer exiting the vehicle. Eventually, the latter of the cars left and came back a little later and the four of them could watch some people on the move exiting the back and being beaten by the officers present.
”They open the car, go out one by one. Just one and close the door, they beat him so much, after, leave him. And second, out, one by one, and close the door, not the whole group, one by one. Twelve people in the car. There is a third car that comes, four people from Algeria is inside. Same thing, one and close the car, beat, beat, beat, beat, so hard. And leave him.”
They witnessed the officers beating those men primarily on their heads and on mouths. Afterwards, some officers began to shoot into the air to scare the people on the move and make them run away. The cries of the men being beaten stuck with the respondent.
“In my life, I have never heard a voice so mad, they screamed like this. In my life.”
After watching these beatings, the respondent’s group waited for the authorities to leave before calling the injured men out to join them. Thereafter, they cleaned the men’s wounds with water and provided the group with food:
“We give them water, we give them food, someone was bleeding a lot. We gave him some medicine.”
From there, they all walked back to the relative safety of Velika Kladuša (BIH). The respondent later describes the terror he felt witnessing this incident, which he reflected on his own status as a person on the move pursuing asylum in Europe:
“I [felt] very scared. Too many police, and disappoint, and morale down, and we can’t cross the border… It’s too many police… and it’s beating so much and make too many people bleeding. It’s not simple beat. It’s like some people had destroyed heads.”
Regardless, he reiterated his determination to keep trying:
“It is very important, I will try. If I can cross the border, I will do it. If I can’t I will come back, and I will do it again – every day and every day.”