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Go Bosnia, go Bosnia!

Date & Time 2023-04-05
Location Close to Velika Gradusa
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 45.27297894076, 16.511950599982
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 19 - estimated 27
Group size 5
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Türkiye
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 3
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Two men in dark uniforms equipped with guns and dark steel cap boots. One woman in dark uniform driving a white car with the inscription 'POLICIJA' on it, confirmed to look exactly like a Croatian border police car.

On April 5th, a group of five young men were apprehended and pushed back by two armed men close to the Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This interview was carried out with one person from the transit group, a 19-year-old boy from Afghanistan. The rest of the people in the transit group were a 21-year-old young man from Afghanistan and three young Turkish men, approximately 23, 25 and 27. At 10:45 pm they found themselves walking in a landscape described as desolate by the respondent. The immediate surroundings were barren but there were houses about a 10 minute walk away in two directions. There was also a highway connecting to the border checkpoint as well as a small river dividing the two countries. The respondent details that the location was close to Velika Gradusa in Croatia.

The transit group saw two armed men approaching them and yelling at them to stop. As the respondent recounts, he was the first one of the group to be physically stopped by the armed men as well as physically assaulted. The two men reportedly beat the respondent with a stick and also started beating the four other people of the group for around five minutes. The respondent recalls that they specially hit him on his face, arms and legs. After beating them with sticks, the armed men forced the group to kneel onto the ground and answer some questions, such as which country they were from. The respondent does not speak English and reported the armed men were speaking to them mostly in this language. When any of the group members tried to ask a question or even just look up at the men, they shone their flashlights in their faces, directly into their eyes. As it was dark and their vision was hindered by the strategic use of the flashlight, the respondent could only describe the uniform the armed men were wearing as having a dark colour, that they were not wearing face coverings or hats and were wearing big black boots. They had guns in halters at their hips and one was described as young and the other as being middle-aged.

The men in uniform started shouting ‘Go Bosnia, go Bosnia’ at the respondents so they got up off the ground and walked towards the Bosnian border. The respondent reports that one of the uniformed men used his phone to call someone which the respondent interprets as calling for backup. They walked for about a minute and were then called back by the uniformed men. They were then reportedly forced to lie on the ground and the armed men took their phones, shoes, clothes as well as money and food. Then the men began kicking them. The respondent reports that they could clearly feel that the uniformed men were wearing steel cap boots as they were extremely hard and caused a lot of pain. All of the respondents were badly injured, especially on their limbs. Some of the injuries inflicted on the respondent were still visible at the time of the interview, as can be seen in the pictures below.

A woman driving a white car with the inscription ‘POLICIJA’ on it, arrived at the scene and took some of the group’s belongings and placed them in the car. After describing the looks of the car, the respondent was shown a picture of Croatian border police and confirmed that it looked exactly like the one on the picture. The respondent details that the uniformed men handed back some of the food and money they had taken from the group. The two men again shouted ‘Go Bosnia, go Bosnia’ so the group started moving again and walked without shoes to the river dividing the countries. They jumped over the river as it is very small, not deep and only about one metre wide. The armed men reportedly stood at the Croatian side of the river and watched them walk away.

When the respondent arrived to Blažuj Temporary Reception Centre after being beaten and pushed back, he went to see the doctor in the camp and was told that he had internal bleeding in his arm. When we met the respondent, his arm was twice the size of the other arm as it was so swollen. He reported that he had now visited the doctor three times but the cream and tablets which he was given did not help with the pain and he couldn’t sleep. He described that others in the camp kept asking him to see the doctor again and even though he had little hope, he would try again later that day.

When this testimony was taken, the respondent kept flinching from the pain as well as from having to hold and support his injured arm. When asked if he would rather stop the interview due to the pain he was in, he responded that reporting this is part of being human. He wanted to pass this information on so that it may not happen to other people.


Pictures of the injures inflicted on the limbs of the respondent during the pushback