The respondent and 10 more men, all of them from Afghanistan, started their journey in Sturlic (Bosnia) and crossed the border to Croatia by foot. After three days of walking, they crossed Route 1 in Croatia and continued walking in a forest. In that forest, however, they were caught by Croatian officers.
The officers frisked the men’s bodies, searching for their money and mobile phones. They took all money from the men (100 Euro in the case of the respondent) and broke their phones.
The respondent told the officers his name and nationality and asked them whether he could apply for asylum in Croatia. But the officers did not let him speak and when he or other men tried to say something, they reacted by physically attacking them.
After that, the group of 11 Afghani was joined with another 11 men from Pakistan. The whole group of now 22 men was then directly pushed back to Bosnia in a police van. According to the respondent, the driver was driving very fast and was braking the car in a way that everyone was falling down from their seats. After one hour, the van arrived to an area close to the official border checkpoint of Maljevac. There, they were handed over to other Croatian officers wearing blue shirts. These officers were acting violently against the men:
“When they brought us to the border, they handed us over to other officers, in blue shirts. They kept telling me, “Picko matre, picko matre”. They told us to put our hands behind our heads and put a wooden stick under the elbows of each of us. They sprayed our eyes [with an irritant spray]. There was a river, and three officers were standing in front of the river and three officers behind the river. The officers started beating us with sticks [batons] and pushed us into that river, and another two were beating us when we were coming out of the river on the other side, shouting at us “Go!”. All 22 people were beaten”.
The respondent did not recognise the faces of the perpetrators because it was dark and because the officers kept pointing torches into the men’s faces while they were beating them, so they could not see anything else than the lights. Following the violent incident, all the men walked back to the makeshift camp in Velika Kladuša. The following pictures show the respondent’s bruises which were caused by the authorities’ violence.