On July 17th, six people-on-the-move from Afghanistan were pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. Three of them were minors.
The father of the children, the respondent, is a former Afghan military officer. He had to flee from the Taliban as they threatened to kill him after finding his documents. The group consisted of his two brothers, his wife and his two children.
On this day they encountered Croatian authorities three times. The first time, the respondent described that they tried to cross the border in the evening. Two officers in blue uniform reportedly intercepted them and said: “We don’t let you in“, even though the respondent explained that they asked for asylum. The officers blocked the way and said: “Go back“, pointing to the forest behind them.
The transit group walked again for 2 hours and tried another place to cross the border. Again, two officers with light blue uniforms were immediately there and reportedly blocked their way.
When they tried the third time, the group managed to cross into Croatia but the respondent reported that they were quickly intercepted on Croatian ground by four vans with black uniformed officers inside.
The vans surrounded them and they were approached from both sides by a total of 16 officers, according to the respondent’s description. The group sat on the ground and put their arms protectively around the 3 year old child and the 5 year old child. When they asked for asylum this time, the respondent reported that the officers started beating them. He said that they kicked his head and his wife’s back with their boots.
“We sat on the ground and didn’t say anything but they didn’t stop hitting us”.
The respondent recounted that he held his child in his arms while being kicked in the head and body by the officers, and that his daughter screamed: “stop hitting my dad“.
The officers reportedly collected the group’s cell phones and smashed them. When the group asked for water and food, one officer responded: “that’s not my problem. Shut up“. Then the respondent recalled that the officers told them: “go to Bosnia. If you come back you get a really big problem”.
They returned, walking, to Velika Kladuša in Bosnia.
The respondent said that they are now traumatized and the whole family can’t sleep at night because of nightmares.
“This is now at the forefront of our minds that if we go back there will be big problems. The officer said that we will be finished if we return.”