On the morning of the 16th of June, a group of six people were pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia. The transit group members were all from Iran and included an 11-year-old girl, two teenagers, two men, and a woman.
The respondent, an 18-year-old man, recalled how the group had walked for several days from Bosnia to Croatia and was approximately 8 km away from Zagreb when they were stopped by what he described as Croatian officers in black uniforms. The group believed the suspected officers to be members of the Croatian police. The respondent remembered:
“We were talking with [the police] and they said, ‘everything is fine, don’t worry’, then they asked where we are from. When we said Iran they changed their mood.”
It was reportedly at this point that one of the suspected officers took the phones and other belongings of the transit group and instructed them to sit down and not talk. After approximately two hours of sitting in the sun, two more suspected officers arrived. The respondent reported that the two police cars present at that time had the registration numbers ‘070_624’ and ‘070_621’. He described the officers as four men wearing black uniforms, three with ‘POLICIJA’ in white writing and one with yellow writing, who the respondent believed to be in charge of the others. He believed three of the officers to be in their late 40s or early 50s and thought one of the officers was younger, likely in his 30s.
According to the respondent, the suspected officers asked whether the group wanted to claim asylum, to which the group replied that they did. The respondent described how the officers first said “Ok come with us,” but then as the group stood to their feet, the officers laughed at them and said “what are you doing? Sit down. No one wants to give you asylum.”
The group was reportedly loaded into a van that had the registration number ‘100_445’. The group was in the vehicle for approximately 1-1.5 hours before arriving at the Bosnian border. The respondent recalled that when they came out of the van, six officers with batons were waiting for them. The description of the black uniforms and balaclava masks of these officers corresponds to that of the Croatian Intervention Unit. The respondent said “I told my mum and my sister to go on the outside” so that the officers would recognize that they were a family and not use violence against them.
The suspected officers who had taken the respondent’s phone reportedly told him they would return it to him. The respondent said that this was not the case, however, and they kept the phone. To remember the registration numbers of the cars, the respondent explained that he used a piece of broken glass to scratch the numbers into his skin. He has been pushed back several times and is determined to report all the details of the criminal actions against him.
According to the respondent, the officers at the border did not use any physical violence against the group and just sent them across the border. As the group was left somewhere along the green border and without a phone, the respondent could not remember the location. At first, they thought that they were near Velika Kladusa, but without a phone, they were unable to find the way. They walked from 4 pm to 6 am before they finally reached Velika Kladusa.