The respondent, a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan, left home with his family three years ago. The family is nine in total, with ages ranging from 1 to 32.
Early in the morning on February 1st, 2022, the family crossed through the mountains of Bosnia on foot, just outside Velika Kladuša, and passed into Croatia. The respondent explained that they hoped they could apply for asylum if they encountered Croatian authorities:
“If the police not come [we] go to the police and we will say to the police give me asylum, we want to go to camp, we want to stay.”
Since the police did not find the family at the border they walked inland for what the respondent estimated to be one hour, until they reached a church in Polojski Varos. Once there they phoned the police to inform them of their location and expressed their wish to seek asylum.
A while later, a large white transport van arrived with a police emblem on the side. Two officers got out of the vehicle in dark blue uniforms with “police” written on the back, a description that corresponds to that of the Croatian regular police. The family again expressed that they wanted to seek asylum and the police told them it would be no problem and asked them to load into the van.
“We say we want to stay in Croatia. The police told me ‘Okay, no problem. We will give you stay, let’s go.'”
After approximately 10 minutes the van stopped and the officers opened the rear doors. There were now seven officers all dressed in dark blue uniforms. Those officers told the family to exit the vehicle and go back across the border to Bosnia.
When asked if the police used any violence during this pushback, the respondent told that this time they did not, but that this has not always been the case.
“If we tell them too much please give us stay they are doing some bad beat.”
The respondent knew the exact location of the pushback, a mountain in Pasin Potok, on the Croatian border. He stated that the family had been pushed back over this area of the border nearly 30 times.
“They [the police] act like we are their enemy. We tell them please give us stay, we have a child that is one year, we have a woman that has asthma problems and they say ‘I don’t care, go back to Bosnia.'”