On the 9th of June, 2021, the respondent, a 24-year-old Algerian man got violently pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Due to the shock and the physical violence that he endured, he was not able to describe everything in detail that he experienced during his pushback.
On June 9th, in the morning, the respondent cycled from the Bosnian town of Cazin to the border village of Buga (see picture), where he crossed the river Korana, which marks the Croatian-Bosnian border in this area. Since the river is not as deep at this site as in other places, the respondent decided to cross it on foot and carry his bicycle through the water.
After, he walked to the nearest street where he started riding the bike again until he reached the first road (D217). He reported that he followed road D217 and then turned on road D1 towards Selište Drežničko where he took road D42 in the direction of Ogulin. Just before the village of Munjava (see picture), the respondent encountered a regular traffic checkpoint of Croatian police officers. He described that the officers were wearing blue uniforms (indicating that it was regular police or border police) and stood next to four white police cars (two “normal police cars” and two SUVs). The police officers stopped the respondent and asked him to get off the bike.
“The police at the street checkpoint were kind. They asked me where I have this bike from. And I said ‘from Bosnia.’”
At the police checkpoint, the respondent expressed his willingness to ask for asylum. Nevertheless, he was put in a police car, which he described as a prisoner transportation vehicle, by another officer that was called. This officer then drove the respondent to the green border between Bosnia and Croatia.
At the pushback site, the respondent stepped out of the police vehicle and noticed three regular police cars (“like on the street”) and one SUV that were parked at the location. He estimates that there were around 10 to 12 policemen present. Those officers wore black uniforms(likely Croatian Intervention police). Around 6 or 7 of the officers were waiting outside of their cars. Reportedly, those officers also took all of the few belongings that the respondent had brought from him. In total this was about 80 euros, his mobile phone, and his clothes. Then the officers started to beat him. The respondent described how after the first punches he fell to the ground and tried to protect his head from the blows with his arms.
“I cannot tell you exactly how many beats me because I defended my head and my leg with the arms. I thought it’s better to just have one leg diseased better than two legs”
While the police officers were beating and kicking him with sticks, the officers were talking to each other. As the respondent speaks some Croatian, he could understand that the police officers were making fun of him for using a bicycle for “the game”.
“They were telling me ‘bicikl Ha? Bicikl Ha?’ and they beat me.”
Since the officers were beating the respondent very close to the river Korana, the respondent was able to limp to the river and plunge into the water to escape from the officers.
“If I didn’t push myself to the river, maybe I would be in hospital now. They have no mercy!”.
At the Bosnian side of the border (probably close to the village of Tržac) he paid a taxi which took him back to the smalltown Cazin where he called a friend who brought him back to Velika Kladuša, BiH.