The respondent, a 30-year-old man from Afghanistan, tried to reach central Europe together with his friend, a 31-year-old man and his friend’s cousin, a minor of 17 years. He explained that he and his fellow transit group members started in Bosnia and walked until they reached Gospic, Croatia from where they bought some bus tickets in order to reach Zagreb to ask for asylum in the camp.
On August 13th at approximately 9 AM, they were waiting for the bus in the bus station of Gospic. The bus was supposed to arrive in just 3 minutes when a policewoman reportedly approached them just before the arrival of the bus. She was wearing a light blue police uniform with the Croatian flag sewn on it and the word “Policija” written on it. The policewomen asked for the IDs of the respondent and his companions. The respondent explained that they did not possess their IDs as they had been destroyed in a previous pushback by what he described as Croatian police officers. He informed the policewoman about this and pleaded with her to let him and his friend get on the bus so they could ask for asylum at a camp in Zagreb.
“I said let me go please. I want asylum. You have a kind heart please. But she just said NO”.
In the meantime, the bus had arrived and the driver reportedly asked the respondent if he was boarding, but the policewoman answered instead saying that the three men were with her. When the respondent realised that he was not going to reach Zagreb, he recalled how he had a panic attack and fainted on the ground.
He remembered waking up in what he believed was a police station. He described seeing Croatian flags and a policeman in a light blue uniform in front of him. He was alone in a room without his friends. When he woke up the police called a doctor. The respondent said that the doctor was very rude and talked loudly in Croatian to the policeman. He suspected that the doctor told the police he had faked fainting and to deport him.
“The doctor is saying: you lie. He is saying the police this migrant fake, deport deport”
The policeman then reportedly grabbed him by the arm and took him outside the police station, where there was a white van in which the respondent was loaded. Inside the vehicle, he found his friend and cousin that had been loaded in the van earlier.
Once loaded in the van, two officers described as wearing light blue uniforms drove the respondent and his friends to Zeljava next to the border with Bosnia. It was approximately a 1.5-hour drive but the incident lasted a couple of hours.
When they reached Zaljava, the policemen reportedly ordered them to leave all their personal belongings on the ground. They took all these objects including phones, power banks, money, and bags. When the personal belongings were on the ground they indicated the road to Bosnia, saying “go” with a hand gesture.
The respondent wanted to take his phone quickly and run but as he moved the police grabbed him by the shoulder and took out his gun.
“he point the gun in my head and say ‘take something I shoot’. We started to run”
When the respondent turned his head he saw the police officers burning their personal belonging in a fire.
“They take our phones because they want to slow us. They take our phone we try the game later. Is hard to find a new phone”
The respondent concluded his report by saying how exhausting it is to be pushed back and to experience this high level of violence
“When you go on game, you walk you don’t feel tired, you don’t feel 10 hours of walking. When they deport it is like you walk for 10 months. We have no hope. It takes all the energy away”