““They grabbed me by the arms and legs, like garbage,””

  • Date and time: September 13, 2020 15:30
  • Location: Vinkovci, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.299746178284, 18.802293777335
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Serbia
  • Demographics: 1 (10 others) person(s), age: 45-50 , from: Iran
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting
  • Police involved: at least 5 Croatian police officers, one or two wearing light blue uniforms, the others dark blue uniforms.
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

The respondent had started her journey into Croatia from Serbia with her daughter and son-in-law and around 7 other people-on-the-move on September 13th. On the way, the group separated because they were afraid of the risk of being apprehended.

The respondent wanted to take the train from Vinkovci (HR) to Zagreb (HR). She was already sitting in the train when an officer watched her from the outside. The respondent inferred that the officers must have been in the train station because they had caught around 10 Arabic speaking people on a goods-train previously [45.300082, 18.802153]. They were holding the people-on-the-move in the train station while searching the other trains.

The Tovarnik Train Station, where the respondent described being first apprehended by Croatian authorities [45.300082, 18.802153]. 
After the officer had looked at her for 5 minutes he went inside the train and asked for her documents. When she respondent that she did not have any, he took her to a van used for push-backs and forced her inside. When she was inside she knocked on the front and told the officers that she wanted to seek asylum in Croatia. She said she was more than 35 km into the country and that they would have to give her asylum. She also said, she has documents that she is chronically sick and that she did not feel well in that moment. She was afraid of having a heart attack.

One officer came to the back of the van and let her out. She showed her documents and said she has diabetes and uses insulin as well as a spray for her heart disease. She expressed her intention to claim asylum again. The officer responded by taking all the documents and throwing them on the floor as well as taking her bag and emptying it. There was no insulin in there but her heart spray. The respondent described that the officer then threw everything back into the van and insulted her in Croatian. The respondent repeated her asylum claims and expressed the illegality of the officers’ actions. The officer told her something along the lines of “shut up” in Croatian and forced her back into the van. This incident happened in front of the train station with civilians watching.

There were two police officers. One was wearing light-blue uniform and the other dark blue. The respondent described that the officer in light-blue uniform was inclined to take her to the hospital but the other one was opposed.

After the van started moving the respondent fell unconscious. The fellow people-on-the-move in the van only had very little water that they sprayed into her face to wake her up. Inside the van, there were two people from Kosovo and the others were Arabic speaking and had started from Šid, Serbia as well. They knocked on the front of the van. The van stopped after approximately 5 minutes. The officers opened the Van and took her outside. Someone found her spray. After she used that, while still laying on the ground, the officers kicked her and threw her back into the Van.

“They grabbed me by the arms and legs, like garbage,”.

This happened about 2 times more. The people-on-the-move knocking as soon as she got unconscious, the officers stopping, taking her out and kicking her while she was laying on the ground, visible for the others in the van.

After that they turned back to the police station in Vinkovci [45.28811, 18.80701]. They had not left the immediate area of Vinkovci because of the constant stops due to the respondent’s health. In the police station, the respondent still felt unwell. There was a woman that had some medical knowledge that checked her blood pressure which was very low (18/10).

The Vinkovci Police Station, where the respondent described being detained by Croatian authorities prior to being taken to the hospital and prior to being pushed back [45.28811, 18.80701].
Realizing the crucial state of her they called an ambulance and took her to the hospital in Vinkovci [45.292558, 18.818958]. Inside the hospital they treated her with some kind of infusion. The respondent was shaking a lot and needed insulin. After around 2 hours a police officer in light-blue uniform takes her back to the police station in a van used for push-back. There she was taken to the second floor and met by a woman in civilian clothes. The Croatian women only spoke Croatian with the respondent and asked her for her personal data.

Vinkovci’s central hospital, where the respondent described being brought to in an ambulance for treatment before being pushed back from Croatia [45.292558, 18.818958].
The respondent described again expressing an intention to claim asylum in Croatia. In response, the Croatian women reportedly told her “No problem, sign this” and handed her a paper which the women-on-the-move signed. There was no higher ranking officer in the station, reportedly because of it being Sunday night.

After that they took her and other people-on-the-move into the van used for push-backs with two police officers in dark blue uniforms and took them to the railways close to Tovarnik. There she was beaten with fists on her torso and she started crying which the officer believed it to be “a role” – or an act. The respondent still has pain in her lower back from the beating and kicking by the Croatian police.

(Bottom of image) The train tracks outside of the to town of Tovarnik where the respondent described being pushed back to Serbia by Croatian authorities

The respondent told us “At least deport us in a proper way, hand us to the Serbian police or something” but the Croatian police does not care. “They behave very badly, unpolite. Only insulting us”