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Croatian police hit, one-by-one, and say 'Welcome to Bosnia.'

Date & Time 2019-07-22
Location Rupa Border Crossing near Jelšane, Slovenia
Reported by Border Violence Monitoring Network
Coordinates 45.48936548, 14.27771848
Pushback from Croatia, Slovenia
Pushback to Bosnia, Croatia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 5 - 26
Group size 15
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 25
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, dog attacks, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 15 Croatian regular police officers, 10 Slovenian police officers

At approximately 00:00, July 22nd, a 26 year old Pakistani man travelling alone by foot in the Slovenian forest about 25 km from the Slovenian-Croatian border was caught by ten Slovenian police officers. Two police officers were wearing black pants and blue shirts, while the rest were wearing all black. The police officers were not wearing face masks. The officers set two police dogs, without muzzles, loose on the man in the forest and the police dogs bit both his legs and hung on to them. As the man says:

“They [dogs] ate my foot.”

When the police come over to him after the dog bite attack, the man pleaded with the police for medical help.

“I tell them ‘please help me. I want to go to hospital.’ …Then after they too much beat me. Kicks and box my nose and stick [baton]. I say him ‘please I want asylum in Slovenia. Please give me asylum.’ They say me no.”

As shown in the quote above, the police laughed at him and asked him why he was crying like a child and two police officers kicked him and beat him with batons and with their hands, punching him. The respondent stated that he felt he was beaten for five minutes. He asked for asylum and the police officers responded by saying “no”.

Around 02:00, the man was taken to a police station where he again asked for medical aid and asylum.

“When I go to police station, I say ‘please sir, I want asylum here. Please protect me.’ But they do nothing…I say him in the police station ‘please help me. I want doctor, please give me first aid.’ And they say me ‘no, not now. Tomorrow, tomorrow.’ After that, two police will come in the room and they beat me.”

The police responded to his repeated medical requests by saying that they will give him medical aid “tomorrow” and after he asked for asylum and medical aid, two police officers entered into his cell and responded to the verbal request by beating him.

The respondent was left in the police station for eight hours, where he was given a small portion of bread and soda only at the end of his detention. During the whole period he was kept alone in the room. After the detainment, the police put him in a car with four other persons. The respondent asserted that these four people were from Afghanistan and there were two minors, brothers: a nine year old male child and a thirteen year old male child. The other two appeared to be eighteen or nineteen.

From Slovenia, they were driven in a hot van (with extreme discomfort) to the official border stop between Croatia and Slovenia at Rupa, Croatia (see map below). There were no benches to sit in the van and the police officers blasted hot air into the rear area of the van where the five passengers were crouched.

On July 22nd, around 11:00, the respondent and the four other people in the van were handed over to the Croatian police. At the point of exchange,the Croatian and Slovenian police talked for 10 minutes at the official border stop, described by the respondent as an “immigration road.”

“Croatian police and Slovenian police talk. They talk I think for ten minutes together about us. And after they push [us] to Croatia police. We say to Croatia police ‘please, give us some food. We are very hungry. We are two, three days no eat something.’ But they say me ‘no.’ His [policeman] language very bad. Now I can’t say [to] you.”

The respondent and others in the group asked for food and medical aid, prompting the Croatian police to curse at them and beat them with their hands and batons. The respondent stated:

“I say to the police officer ‘please, I want help. I have problem. I need injection [for the dog-bite]. This is very dangerous, serious problem.’ But they start beat me…[with] stick and box.”

The respondent stated that the police beat even the two young minors present in the group.

The group was then taken to a police station, where they remained for what he suggested was approximately seven hours in a container. The respondent was placed in this small container with eight other people-in-transit. The respondent stated:

“When we come in the container and two police come and [hit] everybody with the stick.”

The Croatian police then made them strip to their underwear and seized all their belongings: backpacks, phones, shoes, clothing, etc.

“Everything out…Money, phone, bag, everything, we give it.”

The respondent was only given one shirt and a pair of shorts: the rest of his belongings and telephone were taken by the police.

After seven hours, the police loaded these nine people into a van and driven to the Croatian-Bosnian border near Velika Kladuša. The inside of the van was very hot and the Croatian police, according to the respondent, purposefully blew hot air into the van. People threw up in response to this treatment.

“No oxygen, no air… and they [police] speak very bad language, about our mother, our country. ‘Pička ti materina.‘”

The respondent stated that he was in the van for approximately five hours; however, the police took a one-hour break in Zagreb to get coffee, leaving the group in the hot van. The police also picked up six other people-in-transit in Zagreb and put them in the van, bringing the total to 15. The respondent stated that the inside of the van was incredibly hot, with no fresh or circulating air or places to sit or hold on to. Some people in the van continued to throw up from the conditions. When someone in the group called for help from the police due to an injury or complaint, the police insulted and hit the person who had asked for help. In this group of 15, the interviewee states there appeared to be a family from Syria – one woman, one man, and two young children, a boy and girl, both around five to seven years old – four men from Pakistan, three Palestinian men and others.

Around “evening-time”, the respondent thinks approximately 19:30, the van arrives at a location approximately 30km from Velika Kladuša in the “jungle, not immigration road” at the border. Two more police vans arrived and the respondent stated that about 15 policemen were present at the border, wearing black pants and light blue shirts and carrying batons, a description fitting the Croatian regular police uniforms.

The respondent states that the police took the people out of the vans “one-by-one” and beat them on their backs and feet as they exited the van and continued to beat them in the direction of the border. As they were beaten, the police told them: “Welcome to Bosnia.”

“They [policemen] say like this: ‘come one-by-one, one-by-one, one-by-one.’ Hit, one-by-one and say ‘Welcome to Bosnia.'”