On Wednesday, February 24th, the respondent, along with 3 unaccompanied minors (2 male, 1 female), started his journey from Velika Kladusa (Bosnia) towards the Croatian border. According to the respondent, the group was intending to surrender themselves to the Croatian police upon their arrival inside Croatian soil to express their intention to seek asylum in the country. All group members except for one were carrying documents stating some of their immediate family members were in the camp in Zagreb.
Upon arrival on Croatian territory, the group was apprehended at around 5 PM by four officers in dark blue uniforms. The group expressed their intention to seek asylum in Croatia and presented their documents. They were then taken to an alley nearby, where all group members except for the female member, were reportedly asked to remove their clothes. Their clothes and belongings were thoroughly searched. After that, the officers allegedly started striking and punching the group members mostly into their ribs while they were asked to keep their arms open. The respondent described that, while searching the group’s belongings and clothes, the officers were specifically saying “money”, asking where they kept their money. In the end, three phones and 100 EUR were found and reportedly not returned to the group. Their backpacks and clothes were given back.
After the search, a van described by the respondent as the “deportation van” arrived and took the group to the push-back point. The group had to stay inside the vehicle for around 1 hour, while another group, possibly from Pakistan, was allegedly subject to physical violence by the authorities before they were sent back into Bosnia. According to the respondent, the whole time they were waiting inside the car, they could hear how the other group was getting beaten, and how the people were whining and crying.
“Getting beaten up is not even the worst part, It’s the psychological torture that destroys you, when they keep you inside a dark van, and all you can hear is people getting beaten up, whining and crying. It only means you are next, that’s a torture.”
After about an hour, they were told to leave the car. Outside, there were 5 Croatian officers described by the respondent as “very big and huge” and in dark blue uniforms with ski masks on their faces. The respondent recalls that they started cursing with phrases like ” fuck Allah”, “fuck country”, “fuck Mohammed”, “fuck mothers”. They then searched the group again, asking for the phones and money, but all phones and money had already been taken away by the first group of officers.
The officers then reportedly asked all group members, including the female unaccompanied minor, to remove all their clothes including their underwear. The respondent described that, while they were undressing, the authorities were beating them with batons, tree sticks, as well as punching them. This physical violence would have continued after all the group members were searched and allowed to put their clothes back on. According to the respondent, they were then asked to lie flat on their stomachs, and the 5 officers beat them while on the groud. He reported that he was mainly beaten on his ribs, legs, and on his head. The respondent also specified that one officer put a knife under his neck and threatened him. He then hit him on his head with the knife handle for what felt like 10-20 times.
While walking towards the border point, the group was also getting beaten from behind. At the border point, next to a stone that marks the Bosnian-Croatian border, the officers allegedly kicked every group member in their stomach, which resulted in 2 of the minors throwing up. After crossing the border back to Bosnia, some group members could not move further as a result of injuries. The respondent described that the Croatian officers then came inside Bosnian soil ordering them to keep moving.
The group was sent back into Bosnia at around 9 PM, and it took them around 3-4 hours to arrive back in Velika Kladusa.