The respondent is a 26-year-old man from Iran. At around midday on January 29th, the transit group, consisting of three men from Iran aged 21, 26, and 36, started walking in the region of Boina, Una Sana, near the Bosnian-Croatian border. The respondent explained that after three and a half hours of walking through a forested territory, they were apprehended at approximately 3.30 PM near the small town of Glina, Croatia. Four white vans reportedly stopped next to the three men and 14 people wearing dark blue uniforms got out. The respondent reported that the transit group was shouted at to get on the ground: “Get down, down, down!“.
After the transit group knelt on the ground, they were patted down all over their bodies and had to hand over all the objects they were carrying: “Give me your mobile, flashlight, money, everything”. The respondent stated, that he asked for asylum in this situation: “Please write message to police station, I stay here.“.
He reported that they were asked to get into one of the vans, He described that it became very cold in the vehicle because the air conditioning was turned low, although the temperatures were low outside.
According to the respondent, they were driven to the pushback location and arrived at approximately 6 PM. The respondent estimated that there were about 20 persons in dark uniforms and several police cars of different sizes (he estimated about four to six) at the location. Due to the very bright flashlight, the respondent could not give any information about the exact number. Because of his knowledge of earlier transit attempts, the respondent was able to locate the actual pushback site on the map: 45.212296, 15.929116.
The respondent reported that they were ordered to take off their jackets, jumpers, and shoes and to unpack the contents of their backpacks by a female in uniform, whom the interviewee described as “very angry woman, very angry“. Then, this female and another man reportedly searched the contents of their backpacks and threw everything into a pile. The interviewee said that there was food in the backpacks which were kicked through the area. A friend of the respondent was asked twice to provide his mobile phone pin: “two time speak, ‘Give me Pin, give me Pin‘ but he don’t know the Pin, he always use fingerprint before”.
According to the respondent, he tried to get back his shaving machine, which he had gotten a short time before; he asked to keep only that and his phone: “Please give me phonbe, I have pictures inside, picture my mum, picture my dad, please“. He stated that one of the men in uniform laughed at him and shouted: “Shut up, go, go, back inside“. Before returning to the van, the transit group was reportedly forced to watch how the female in uniform burned the pile with all their belongings. The respondent stated that the only things they could keep were their backpacks and sleeping bags.
The respondent further explained that the three men then got back into the vehicle and drove again for an estimated 200 metres. He believed that they were driven across the border.
The respondent reported that after he got out of the van, another man, whom he believed to be a police officer but without a uniform and in civil clothes, was present. He suspected that it was a higher-ranking police officer (“a general, you know”) because of the way he had spoken to the other persons in uniform. The transit group was ordered to return to Bosnia quickly: “Go, go to Bosnia, never come back!“. The respondent explained that his friend put his backpack on more slowly than the others and was kicked for this reason in the lower back by the man, who was described as a “general“. According to the respondent, as he also stopped to wait for his friend, he was hit by the uniformed man (who was also driving the van) with a fist on his shoulder. He reported that the three then started running as fast as they could in the direction indicated by the men in uniform.
The respondent then described walking through the forest quickly and rushing. He related the feeling of being rushed to his fear of the people in uniform during this pushback. The respondent stated that afterwards, they walked for an estimated two to three hours without being able to see anything in the dark forest because the uniformed people had also taken their flashlights. The respondent also mentioned that during the pushback, they were blinded by the flashlights used by the police.
As the place where the transit group had slept before is far outside (in Boina, a region near the border to Croatia), the respondent described that they were very cold and hungry the night they arrived and they had no possibility to ask for help.