The respondent, an Iranian man, along with his wife and her brother tried to cross the border from Serbia to Croatia on the night of the 1st June 2021 with a train. They were hiding under the train, so no one could observe them without explicitly checking underneath the train. The train crossed the border but was then stopped at the main train station in Tovarnik, the first Croatian city after the border. The respondent stated that there were a total of 8 police officers with 2 German shepherd dogs checking the train, searching for people. According to the respondent, there was also one man who was the owner of the dogs but was no police officer. He assumed that this man was not a police officer himself but was working for the police and gets paid by them.
There had been others traveling with the train as well, who were also detected. In total, the officers apprehended 25 people. The group was forced to stand at the train station and had to wait there for about 2 hours.
The man and his wife requested to ask for asylum in Croatia, but the police ignored their request and pushed them back. The respondent stressed that there was no translator present at the train station, so they had difficulties communicating with the authorities, adding, “they don’t care about that kind of stuff.”
“My wife`s mother is in Zagreb, we tried to make a reunion happen. Police said that they talk to their chief and if the chief accepts, we can go to Zagreb. If not, they will deport us back.”
“We talked to the officer and asking them and trying to beg them to accept our asylum […] But police told us that they cannot decide, that they have to ask their chief.”
Within the group, there were also some more families, one from Morocco with an 8-month-old baby.
After staying for 1.5 hours at the train station, the group was to be taken in a police van. As there were 25 people within the group, they did not all fit into the van and therefore the group was split and driven in two trips. They were taken to a place the respondent described as close to the Serbian border.
One police officer drove them to the location close to the border next to some train tracks leading back to Serbia, where two other officers were waiting for the group. During the car drive, the group stayed in the back of the car, with the doors locked and no windows.
When the driver opened the door, one police officer was pointing with a big torch towards their eyes, blinding them.
“My wife was trying to talk to this person to please put the light down […] But that guy tried to beat my wife […] That officer trying to kick with his police boots, when you get beaten with this boots its really hurting and maybe some injuries happen or bruises”
“He is really angry and trying to beat us […] He beat the brother of my wife on the knee and on the back of the leg and on the back (…) and he fell down on the ground”
After the group was told to walk back over the border into Serbian territory. While the group was crossing the border, the officers were insulting the group in Croatian, which the respondent could understand.
“When we were walking to the Serbian side, he was telling us bad words in Croatian language and I understand all of that.”
“When we wanted to go he said ‘we are watching you (…), so don‘t try to come back’ […] And we try to go back to Serbia by walking more than 6 km. That was the latest pushback I experienced.”