The group of 10 young men walked from Velika Kladusa (BIH) to Croatia with the intention to apply for asylum in Zagreb. They had been walking for two days through Croatia in the rain and on October 8, 2018, arrived approximately 50 km away from Zagreb.
There, at an unmarked forest location, they got detected by Croatian authorities. The officers wore civil clothes and called their colleagues to whom they handed them over. Those seven officers, wore police uniforms and questioned the respondent and his friends about their identities and intentions in Croatia. The respondent explained to them that he was from Afghanistan and wanted to apply for asylum in Zagreb:
“I told them that I wanted to stay there [Croatia] if they would allow me. They just asked me where I was from, my age, what was my name, but [took] no fingerprints. If they [would] take fingerprints no problem, I [would] give my fingerprints to take asylum. But they don’t give us asylum, not for us. Also my friend told them: ‘I go to Zagreb and I will stay there.’ But the police officers just said to him: ‘Zagreb is not good for you, Zagreb is full, in very bad condition. The camp is full.’ But that time also my other friend said: ‘No problem, I want to stay in Zagreb.’ Another police man told us: ‘Why don’t you want to go to Germany, France’, like this.”
The officers didn’t allow any of them to access the asylum procedures. Instead, they directly deported them to the Bosnian border. Before the push-back, their phones were taken.
The drive with a van to the border area close to the official border check point in Maljevac (HRV) was very fast, so the individuals were falling from one side to the other and some of them got sick:
“Three persons were vomiting. They were vomiting inside the car because the police officers were driving very fast and swinging the car like this.”
When they arrived at the border around 8 pm, they were given their phones back, all of them destroyed. Then, they were told to exit the van one by one, and attacked them with batons and kicks. Three officers were standing on the left side and another three on the right side behind the van, creating a passageway, through which the ten of them had to walk while being beaten:
“When we went out of the car, they beat us very much, very badly. They were kicking me. One of them was a woman, taking a stick into her hand. I fell down, and they continued kicking me here, here and here [pointing at his neck, hip, and groin]… I am very tired, very confused about everything. When we went out of the car, they just beat us. Two days not good food not water, two days in rainy jungle, rainy night, up to morning we woke up in the jungle. When police catch, they behave like this… I think it is not fair to beat refugees, and not right. We are not criminals. We just want to get away from here.”