Starting his journey with the hope of reaching Western Europe, the interviewee walked from Bosnia and Herzegovina with a group of fifteen people in which at least four were underage. The walk lasts nine days. While walking through the forest at approximately midnight, six Croatian officers wearing green uniforms shouted at everyone to stop. They switched on a powerful light:
“In jungle, they have big light which show all the jungle, all lightened and stop. Some people try to run, other catch [are caught].”
One of the police officers asks who could speak english. No one answers. The police then ask who in the group comes from Pakistan and who comes from Afghanistan. The Afghan members of the group were asked to lie down while the Pakistani people had to sit. The interviewee explained that the police do this because Afghan people tend to try to run away, prompting the police to do this.
The police ask if they have weapons but did not frisk them. A police van arrives while they are waiting.
One by one, they enter into the van, and are driven for about two hours in difficult conditions. The interviewee expresses that there is something in the air which makes them feel sick. The interviewee says it reminds him of tear gas he has been sprayed with before.
“[The driver drove] fast and one time break, all the car moving. All guys were like if they drink, maybe before gas inside, we were coughing.” ” Inside the van, no understand what is inside, all get head problem.”
A bit before the border, the van stops and the officers make the people get out of the vehicle one by one. Once out, they are frisked and the croatian officers scrutinizes their clothes, particularly the seams, to be sure that nothing is hidden in their clothing, such as money. The police sieze all the phones, powerbanks and money and put them in a bag. The police also sieze some people’s shoes and bags.
Once the police finish with this process, they drive again for about ten minutes and arrive at the border.
The police park the van so that the back of the van is parked facing towards the border. The officers then ask the people to get out of the van one by one. They are pushed out of the van. The respondent said that he could not see his surroundings because the police officers did not use flashlights, but he felt the beatings coming from both sides.
“One by one outside the car, when I go running, too much car tires, too much car tires [on the floor]. When I run, I fall down. I can not run. 5/5 police [five officers were on both side], big big police. I never see where he hit, too much punch in the stomach.”
The respondent said that the officers beat the individuals in several different ways. He could not see what was going on but he could feel beating from both sides. He feels the police hit him with batons. He is punched in his stomach and on his wrists and he is also kicked on the knee. The respondent still has his bag with him, but after he tries to escape from the “police-officers-beating-line”, one of the officers grabs him by his clothes and pushes him into a stream. The respondent says that the water went up to his hips and his belongings got all wet.
He thinks that there were five officers on either side while he was exiting the van. He doesn’t know what their uniforms looked like because, as he states, there was no flashlight used by the police that would allow him to then see their uniforms.
The respondent said that four or five young individuals, most of them probably 16 or 17 years old, were subject to the same treatment from the officers.
The group then walks back to Velika Kladuša for an hour, and arrives from the back-side of the IOM-run Miral Camp at approximately 3.00 am.