The group of ten young men walked from Velika Kladuša (BIH) to Croatia, from where they wanted to continue via Slovenia to Italy to seek asylum. The fourth day of their journey, around midnight, they were walking in a forest close to the village Lapovac (HRV). At that spot, they were caught by the Croatian authorities who were shouting at them to stop and started shooting in the air with guns:
“The police officers were shooting to the air when they saw us and were shouting: ‘Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down!‘, bum, bum [shooting]. They took our mobiles into the pockets: ‘Give me your mobile!‘. And power banks, they destroyed our power banks.”
The officers frisked their bodies and questioned them about their nationalities, names, and afterwards checked their identification cards and passports. The officers took the Syrian passport of his friend and threw it away, so that he now doesn’t have an ID anymore. Beside taking their phones and destroying their power banks, the officers also took around €300 from them, which they had in their pockets. They were further asking them for the names of their parents. After the short verbal investigation, all ten individuals were directly deported to the Bosnian border with a van.
The 30-minute drive was very fast and all of them were falling from one side to another in the backspace. At the border, the officers told the group to get off the van and physically attacked them while pushing them towards Bosnia:
“By the border, four police men were beating one person. And the police was shouting: ‘Go Bosna!’. They took us one by one. They closed the door of a car, and after this beating one. After, they opened the door, they took another person and started to beat him up. There was a big hill, and they pushed my friend from that hill, so he was rolling down from that hill… They kept shouting: ‘Go, go, go Bosna!’. They hit one with a baton on his head [photo]. I have now problems with my head.”
At the end of the interview, the respondent explained that he was trying to reach Europe to find a place where he can claim asylum, live in peace and study, which was impossible in his homeland Palestine:
“All of us have big problems in life. In Syria is war. In Palestine, my two brothers were shot in Gaza by the Israeli army. I have one brother, twins, who also got shot a bullet into his knee, but he survived.”
The respondent a bump on his forehead and bruises on his knee caused by the attack with a baton (photo). His friend had scratches on his right part of the face (from his forehead till his chin) caused by the officers pushing him, which made him fall down a steep slope into some bushes. Others had bruises and pain in their back and legs as a result of the kicks, punches and batons from the authorities.