“It's a nightmare”

  • Date and time: October 16, 2020 19:30
  • Location: Zagreb
  • Coordinates: 45.171824442235, 15.77055294024
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 16 person(s), age: 25-35 , from: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 2 police officers in Zagreb, 7 male Croatian police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

On October 16, 2020 the respondent and three friends, all from Algeria, called a taxi in Zagreb, Croatia. After a few minutes of driving, the taxi driver then called the police and stopped at a nearby parking lot. After 10 minutes, at about 7 pm, two male Croatian police officers arrived, picked up the men and took them to a nearby police station.

At the police station the four men were each interrogated for about 10 minutes. They had to answer questions about their nationality, their names and other key data. The officers took photos of the group members as well as their fingerprints. Afterwards they were put into a white police van and driven towards the Bosnian border. On the way to Bosnia, the van stopped twice in other villages to pick up more people. At the first stop 5 people from Pakistan and at the second 7 men from Bangladesh got onto the van. The respondent described that during the ride the temperature was turned down so far that the men were freezing. He also described that the driver was driving so wildly that they could hardly stay in their seats. He braked very sharply, drove wildly in the curves, accelerated and braked constantly.

The police van stopped right in front of the border to Bosnia. Then 7 male police officers wearing light blue uniforms and ski masks, opened the door of the van. They forced the people to leave the van and walk with them over the border into the Bosnian territory. Somewhere in the forest, next to Velika Kladusa, they stopped and forced the men to line up into a file. First of all, they were asked to give all their money to the police officers. Then they had to get undressed and hand over all of their other belongings they were carrying with them.

“And then it started. It was like war. Seven against one”

One by one, the men had to leave the rest of the group and come forward individually. The respondent describes how he was surrounded by the 7 police officers who shone with their headlamps at him. He was beaten from all sides with batons and hands and kicked with feet. This lasted for 5 to 7 minutes for each of the group members. Afterwards their naked bodies were carried away and stacked up to a pile on the side.

He described how two men were laid down parallel to one another onto the ground, and then two more men were laid perpendicular on top of the first two, like a crosshatch. This process continued for multiple layers of men.

Drawing of how the men were piled up according to the interviewee.

When the men were forced to walk away, back to Velika Kladusa, it was around 1am on October 17th. All of the group members had difficulties walking due to the beating by the police. The respondent was left with an open wound on his head. Additionally, after this push back, all of the men were left completely naked, not even wearing underwear.

“It is a nightmare. Maybe it is my fault, because it was me, who decided to do this route. I will not complain about it. You know, I only did it for the future of my two daughters, but I am thinking about going back to Algeria. One can not stand it. It is a catastrophe.”