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Go game. Sleep and walk. Eat little. That is how I celebrate Eid.

Date & Time 2019-08-18
Location Near Štrbački Buk
Reported by Border Violence Monitoring Network
Coordinates 44.6560109, 16.0097328
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 10 - 45
Group size 84
Countries of origin Pakistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 16
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 2 regular Croatian police officers, 4 Croatian intervention police, 10 Croatian army officers, unknown number of Croatian police vans

On the 17th of August 2019, a group of 84 Pakistani men and minors, aged 10 to 45, were apprehended by Croatian army officers near the Croatian-Slovenian border in the forest at approximately 09:00. The respondent, a 23-year-old Pakistani man, described how the group had gone on “game” during Eid, stating:

“Sleep and walk. Eat little. That is how I celebrate Eid.”

Contact with authorities began when two army officers came upon a few members of the group and told them to be silent. These two army officers called in eight other officers, who then surrounded the group, some of whom were sleeping. These officers instructed the men in the group to “come and sleep” by which they meant they wanted the men to lie flat on the ground face-first, which the men and minors did.

Then two army officers began taking bags and inspecting them along with blankets and clothes. The transit group were then frisked and asked if they were carrying weapons. The army officers instructed the group to remove all their shoes and put them in their bags, so they would not be able to run. After this, they instructed the men to “sleep” again. The men lay face down on the ground for another five to ten minutes until a van arrived.

The group was put into a line and made to walk about five minutes through the forest until they reached train tracks. The entire group was still without shoes while walking, as they had not been allowed yet to put them back on. Before having the group walk in this line, the army officers took about 25 members of the group and, in smaller groups of four to five, tied their right hands together. This was done to those that were the first in the line to ensure that they were not able to run away.

Once the group reached the train tracks, they walked another 11 to 12 minutes along the train tracks until they reached a train station. The men then sat at this train station while police vans arrived. The men were put into police vans, with about 17 to 18 men put into each van. All the vans were thus overcrowded. They were all driven to a police station, with the drive taking approximately an hour and thirty minutes. The respondent states that this was not a good police station:

“Very bad, small. Has one big room where all [84] people go and inside is one plastic toilet and one water shower.”

At the police station, the respondent was given a sheet of paper in Urdu. This paper instructed him to fill out his name, nationality, name of village, name of parents, where he is going. After filling out this sheet, the respondent signed it at the bottom and the police took a photograph of him with this sheet of paper. The police did not take any fingerprints from the respondent. At the police station, the respondent asked for asylum. The police told him:

“No, don’t have asylum. Go back Bosnia.”

As for the approximately 11 to 12 minors that were in the group, some as young as 10, the police, according to the respondent, did not treat them differently from the adults. When the minors asked for asylum, the police officers repeated the same answer they gave to the adults:

“No, no, no. Go [to Bosnia].”

The respondent stated that he felt he was in the police station for about 10 hours. Four to five people were beaten when exiting the vans to the police station, but the respondent was not beaten during the course of the detainment and pushback. The group was given small amounts of food: one bottle of water, hard biscuit bread and a small piece of chicken.

At nighttime, at around 22:00, the men were loaded into vans again. In the respondent’s van, two police officers wearing light blue shirts and dark pants – a description fitting the regular Croatian police officers – drove the van for approximately two and a half to three hours. The police stopped twice for breaks – the respondent states this was once to go to a restaurant and again for an unknown purpose. During these breaks, the police left the group in the van which was incredibly hot. People vomited inside the van from the heat and the reckless driving.

The police drove the group to the Bosnian border south of Bihać, among “mountains.” At around 01:30 on the following day (August 18th), the police opened the vans and made the groups exit the vans. The respondent only recalls seeing three to four male Croatian officers wearing all black although he is not sure how many there are in total. They were not wearing masks. The respondent states that the police did not beat anyone at the border; however, the police created a fire. In this fire, they threw the group’s “bags, phones, blankets”. The police burned all their belongings, apart from their shoes. The police told the group:

“You go this way, go down [the mountain], you go to Bihać.”

The group then walked back to Bihać.