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Croatian police treated us like animals, after beating us and after stealing us everything, even our shoes.

Date & Time 2021-08-29
Location Cafe 9 Parking, Banja Luka, Croatia.
Reported by Anonymous
Coordinates 45.25965575, 17.1490155
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 16 - 26
Group size 9
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water, frisked
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 7 people, described as 4 Croatian policemen in civilian clothes with one car and 3 Croatian policemen in black uniform with another car.

The respondent states that, on the 29th of August, early in the morning, a group of 9 people from Afghanistan was caught by Croatian police and pushed back to Bosnia. According to him, there were two minors in this group, one of them is 16, and the other is 17 years old.

The respondent asserted that he and his group left Bihac in the evening on the 27th of August, and they arrived in Banja Luka by bus. On the 28th, they reportedly met some other people they knew before, and they slept in a jungle close to the Croatian border with them. The interviewee reported that, at 3 am, they woke up to cross the border; after some hours of walking, they arrived at the “Cafe 9” parking in Croatia, where they were supposed to wait for the truck which could transport them.

While they were waiting for the truck to come, 4 men, described by the respondent as policemen, arrived; the respondent claimed that the group was probably seen from the cameras in the parking. The first men were reportedly dressing in civilian clothes; after 5 minutes, another car got there, and other 3 men arrived, described as wearing a black uniform with a plate on their arm.

The respondent stated that in that parking the youngest man in uniform started to ask a lot of questions to them; the respondent was apparently the only one who could speak English well, so he was the main interlocutor and translator.

According to the repondent statement, the man asked him directly if he had a phone; the respondent did not want his phone to be taken by police, so he said no; he had a lot of materials in his phone, especially proofs in order to ask for asylum in Germany, and he believes that men in uniform operating pushbacks usually take people-on-the-move’s phones. The respondent claimed that after he answered, the man frisked him; when he found his phone’s charger and the power bank, the man asked how he couldn’t have a phone if he had chargers. The interviewee stated that the man eventually found also the phone; at that point, he asked the respondent why he lied before; the respondent answered that he cared about his phone because he has a lot of materials on that.

The man in uniform got reportedly more angry: he took the respondent’s phone, stepped on it, and threw it in the water, saying to the respondent “if you really care about it, go take it”. Then, the respondent reported that he was beaten a lot.

The respondent described that, after that, the man in uniform started beating also the 2 minors. He stated that, trying to defend them, he was telling the violent man that he couldn’t beat minors and that his actions were illegal. The uniformed man reportedly claimed that if they were really minors, they could have passed the border in a legal way. The respondent said that he answered that there is no way for them to arrive in Europe in a legal way; in addition, he kept on asking if there was a chance to apply for asylum in Croatia. The interviewee claimed that the man in uniform just stated that “Croatia doesn’t give asylum to migrants”; then he forced the respondent to shut up and look down without saying a word.

As the respondent said, that man who beat some people in the group was the worst one; the other stayed in the car at that moment and some of them were far from that scene. The respondent stated that the policemen took every stuff they had, even the shoes, and burned everything in the truck parking.

He added that, after that, the men in uniformed brought the group to what was described as a police station; they reportedly put the 9 people-on-the-move in a car without seats, and on that car, there were only fences. The respondent said that he felt treated like an animal.

“Croatian police treated us like animals, after beating us and after stealing us everything, even our shoes. But we are not animals, we are refugees and we are just seeking for asylum.”

The respondent described that the group was brought to another place, also described as a police station, driving for 1 hour and 40 minutes, where again they were all frisked. They reportedly did not stay in the police station for a long time.

The interviewee stated that, after that, they were forced to go inside the car again; the group was driven for 3 hours and a half. According to the respondent, the driver turned on the air conditioner at maximum; all nine people were reportedly feeling cold, especially because most of their clothes were stolen before. The respondent said that they were not wearing shoes; everyone was shaking because of the cold temperature.

The driver was apparently driving really badly; the respondent claimed to have asked many times if the driver could stop because some of the people in the group were almost vomiting. According to the respondent, the driver did not care and never stopped the car. According to the respondent, after 3 hours and a half, that seemed endless to the interviewee, the group was brought back closed to Bosnia border. Then, the 9 people arrived in Velika Kladusa by walking; the respondent underlines that they walked more than 3 kilometers without shoes. They were reportedly really hungry and they had neither food nor money: everything was stolen by the men in uniform in Croatia.

The respondent reported that at that moment, they tried to eat the food they were finding, and after many hours without eating, they found some apples on an apple tree. They reportedly arrived in Velika Kladusa where they luckily found a woman who gave them warm clothes to wear.

After all of that, the respondent reportedly walked back to Lipa camp.