This documented case involves a chain push-back from Slovenia via Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina which took place on October 22, 2020 and affected a group of 25 men, 20 from Bangladesh and five Pakistanis. They all range in the age from sixteen to 25. The respondent estimated that there were about five to six minors within the group.
Before the apprehension in Slovenia, the transit group had already walked eight days, starting in Velika Kladusa, NW Bosnia. The respondent remembered seeing the road sign of the city “Rodik 65” and being about a day-walk away from the Italian city Trieste when they encountered three male Slovenian authorities described as “army officers”. The officers made the men stop and called a colleague who came to pick the men up with a big police van. He drove them to a nearby police station.
At the police station they spent one or two hours waiting in the hallway while each of them had to give their fingerprints. They were asked questions about their nationality, their age and their families. Afterwards they were all put into the big police van again and driven to an unknown police station in Croatia. At this station they just changed into another police van, this time operated by Croatian officers, and were driven to the Croatian-Bosnian border near Velika Kladusa.
The respondent described how the driver deliberately drove recklessly during the whole ride. The group, who had to squeeze themselves in the back of the van, experienced difficulties breathing, due to the lack of ventilation.
When the police van stopped at the Bosnian border, they had to leave the vehicle one by one and strip completely naked. The six police officers present took their money, phones and power banks and piled up their clothes and bags on the side, where they were set on fire afterwards. The men were then forced to lie down next to each other, the face turned onto the ground, “like sleeping”. The respondent described that first, one police officer stepped aggressively onto his head moving his feet back and forth, while pressing the respondent’s face into the ground.
Afterwards the men were struck individually by several police officers. The officers used their hands, feet and batons, as well as big wooden branches that they took out of the woods. The naked men were primarily beaten onto their backs, arms and heads. The respondent estimated that they were hitting each person for at least five minutes, some even up to ten minutes.
While the officers were beating the respondent, they kept asking him, why he came to Croatia. “Why you come? Why you come?”. The interviewee describes that he felt like the police officers enjoyed hitting him: “They make: ’ah, ah. Yeah, yeah!’”. They continued doing this while the respondent pleaded for them to stop.
“Help, help mama, help! Please, please! Please help me. Don’t hit. Don’t hit me.”
After they finished the procedure, the men could put back on their T-shirt and their underwear. They then had to line up in file, each grabbing the shoulders of the person standing in front. In this formation they were forced to cross the border with the police officers flanking them, repeatedly striking the men onto their torsos and legs.
“I am already one year and eight months in Bosnia. I go to so many games. But now it is different. I see so many people coming back with big problems. […] Two weeks ago, so many people come back with so dangerous health. Very dangerous. Before I never see the situation like this.”
The indicated location refers to the initial apprehension, not to the pushback itself.