On the 23rd of August a group of 25 people, Pakistani, Afghan, Iranian, and Bangladeshi citizens left Bihac on foot to cross the Croatian border and try the “game”, the respondent reported.
On the 28th of August, according to the respondent, not far from road D42 (approximate coordinates 44.922905, 15.541266) the group was stopped by uniformed men. These men were hiding in the woods, in the respondent’s opinion there were some cameras installed on a dirt road that they had recently crossed. He assumes that the men in uniform first saw the group through this camera and then prepared to stop them. He further reports there were a total of 16 uniformed men that approached them suddenly.
“We heard gunshots, we got scared. A lot of times it can be thieves taking everything away from you and you can’t go any further but this time it was the police. I stopped, someone else ran.”
The interviewee reports that the 2,3 people who ran away were caught and ended up getting beaten even harder. However, according to the respondent, everyone was beaten, including minors, with wooden sticks found in the woods. “They beat the people who had stopped to intimidate them so that we would not run away.”
The respondent reports that they were left for 2-3 hours in a prone position, on a dirt road, until some men in uniform (according to the respondent’s description belonging to the special forces Interventna Jednica Policija (IJP) ) returned with the three fugitives. Those three men had apparently visible signs of violence and beatings. The respondent reports that the three fugitives were all crying.
The group was subsequently put into a van and the interviewee reports that the officers drove them for 4 to 5 hours. “It was impossible to breathe. Some were sick and vomiting. They drove very fast and jerkily, they did it on purpose.”
The interviewee reports that the group was made to get out of the van and they were forced to strip and put all their belongings and clothes in a hole dug in the ground. “The police took all the phones, power banks and searched us all for money, then they got us back in the van and drove another half hour to the border. They took everything from us, even our shoes. I think the police have their own problems: the shoes, the phones, the power banks, they give them to their friends, their families, brothers, sisters, with our money they have parties…They have a buisness”.
“Then they loaded us in the van and took us to the border [in front of Lohovo -Bihac municipality] and there the policemen made a tunnel, there were 10 of them, 5 on one side and 5 on the other side with 2 dogs. One of us begged not to use the dogs but an officer shouted ‘why did you come to Croatia?’ and beat him hard with the truncheon, then we went through and they beat all of us.”
The respondent claims that the police were beating the dogs a bit to egg the group on and put fear into them. The interviewee also reports being very scared and not feeling well because they had not been drinking and eating properly for days. He reports that it was about 11:00 p.m.
Finally, the group members had to walk for 5 hours, barefoot, until they reached Bihac, a distance of approximately 18 km. Once they arrived in the city, the respondent told us that he bought a pair of flip-flops for all members of the group with some remaining money that he had managed to hide from the police.