One Pakistani and eight Afghan men left Bihać, Bosnia-Herzegovina on August, 27. They walked for about 14 days through the Croatian and Slovenian forests. The respondent describes that they tried to stay away from the main roads out of fear of being caught. When they were only about 20 km from the Italian border they were captured and subsequently pushed back.
On Friday, September 10th at 11 am, they were stopped by one Slovenian policeman who wore a camouflage uniform and was thus identified by the respondent as a “Commando”, or a special forces official. The group was asked to stop and obey, in order to be helped by the police.
“We were exhausted and we had nothing left with us after the long journey, no food, no water. We couldn’t run even if we wanted to. We surrendered, but the police cheated on us.”
In fact, the Slovenian policeman called other special police officers and six of them joined him eventually. At first, they started speaking English to the people on the move, but as the officers realized that the group could not speak alot of English, they soon switched to Slovenian. This increased the confusion among the Afghan and Pakistani men when they were loaded into a police van and driven away.
After a 30 minutes drive, they arrived at an unknown police station. Here, the policemen tried to take their fingerprints, but due to an electrical malfunction of the machine, they had to drive them to another station. Both the drives were described by the respondent as reckless: the van was too crowded and the driver would speed up abruptly and brake randomly, causing sickness and vomit within the group.
It was 1 pm when they reached the second police station. Here, their pictures were taken aswell as their fingerprints. Moreover, they were forced to undress and deprived of their shoes, clothes, and the money they had with them. They were detained for the entire night without access to food and water. The respondent reports the terrible physical conditions they were in: they were starving, exhausted, cold, and frightened.
On the following day (11th Sept) at around 4pm, they were taken to a police station in Croatia. They were kept there for about two hours. They were fed yogurt and bread and they received their clothes back. Afterward, they were once again loaded into a police van. It was a long drive and they didn’t know where in Croatia they were. The policemen were driving recklessly – in the back of the van, some were vomiting and one of the nine men passed out.
In the middle of the night, they were dropped in Lika, Croatia, close to the Bosnian border. After that, they walked to Velika Kladuša, which they reached at around 3 AM on the 12th September. Some locals helped them with food in the morning. They spent the whole day walking to Bihać and at midnight their journey was finally over.