On the 7th of September, a group of 22 people was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were all from Pakistan, and within the group was also one minor.
According to the respondent, the 22 people left Lipa camp in BiH on the 31st of August (they had heard rumors that the borders were open), in the evening. They arrived in Bihac and after some hours of walking, in this area, they crossed the green border into Croatia. The respondent stated that he and his group arrived on road 504, crossed it, and then headed towards highway E71. Except for the highways they crossed, they were walking in the forests (“jungles”) most of the time.
After days of walking, the group left E71 and walked through a tunnel to get on road 23. The respondent remembered that before that tunnel he saw a pond, where he and his group rested a bit.
At the moment they got on road 23, at around 10 in the morning of the 7th of September, the respondent and his group were apprehended by Croatian police officers. They had noticed some camera/sensor in a bush in the forest close to the E71; Subsequently, they tried to change their route to get to road 23 on another way, but the police arrived anyway.
There were 2 cars with 4 policemen in each that arrived at the location; 4 policemen were wearing a green uniform, the other 4 were in brown clothes. According to the respondent, all people in his group tried to run, but the police stopped them immediately and forced them to sit on the ground. Allegedly, they were pointing guns toward all 22 people. In front of the respondent, there was a policeman who shouted at him “picku matre” (an insult in Serbo-Croatian) and hit him with the gun. On the 8th of August, when the interview for the testimony was done, the respondent still had visible marks of this punch.
The policemen forced people to undress, in order to check their whole bodies; they took their phones, money, bags, chargers. Meanwhile, they were beating all the people. The respondent asked many times if they were allowed to drink or eat something because they were all very hungry. But the policemen did not allow them to eat or drink anything. The respondent also remembers that the 17-year-old boy got beaten really heavily, and after, the policemen were laughing at him.
“We told Croatian police that we were in danger in Pakistan, and we asked them protection. Policemen said no, they say they don’t have permission to give us asylum.”
After 2 hours of waiting for their turn to be checked, the 22 people were kicked by policemen and subsequently forced to enter in one small car. The respondent underlines that there was no space for all the people.
“We were too many people in that car; the driving was so bad. I tried to cover myself so I wouldn’t see or hear people vomiting, or I would have felt sick too.”
After 40 minutes in the car, they stopped. The respondent tried to look outside to locate the group, and he noticed they were outside of a police station. After 20 minutes, all the 22 people were transferred to another car, larger than the previous one. Back on the road, they were driven to a second police station; and after some time, they stopped in another one.
Finally, they arrived at the last stop around 5.30 in the evening; the respondent states the police drove them back to Bosnia. The policemen brought the 22 people to the border and handed them to the Croatian border police. There were 5 Croatian border policemen.
“They forced us to give them all our jacket and some clothes we had; they left us only with t-shirt and trousers. They burned everything. Besides that, they checked all over our body: they even control inside our mouth and they put their fingers in our private parts, to see if we were hiding something“.
The respondent states that after having been checked again, they were left there and told to run. They entered Bosnia with all the people feeling really tired. Some of them stayed in Bihac, some others wanted to return to Lipa. Luckily, after 20 minutes a car (a normal one) approached them, picked them up, and drove them to Lipa camp, so they did not need to walk the whole way. They arrived completely exhausted and hungry there.