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We were like animal, they saw us as something dirty

Date & Time 2021-06-27
Location near E61, Slovenia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.1878844, 15.7829869
Pushback from Croatia, Slovenia
Pushback to Bosnia, Croatia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 8 - 45
Group size 11
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention fingerprints taken, photos taken, papers signed, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 6 Slovenian police officers, 2 Croatian police officers - light blue uniforms, 6 police van

The interview was conducted with a 16-year-old girl. Another member of the transit group, the mother of the smallest baby was also present during the interview. On the 2nd of July, three families, in total eleven people, went on a transit attempt together. The family of the respondent consisted of her 8-year-old brother and their parents. The youngest child in the group was ten months old. They started their journey in Bihac, BiH on foot. After five days, they had crossed Croatia and managed to cross the Slovenian border.

As the group could not find freshwater places, they had to drink dirty water from the river and puddles. The day after, the baby started to cry and became very stiff. The mother was worried, as her child had been very calm during the previous days. They decided to go to the street to stop a car, in the hope that the driver would call the ambulance for them or get help from police officers or a hospital. After 10-15 minutes a car, with a nervous-looking driver, stopped. They asked him to call the police. Five minutes later, the first three of a total of six police cars arrived. Those were normal police cars the respondent said, white cars with blue signs on them and “police” written on the side. Reportedly, in order to intimidate the group members, the police officers opened the back door of one car, which had barking police dogs inside. The group members were very afraid of the dogs, and some members started to cry.

“When we were scared, they laughed at us.”

The Slovenian police asked them for the reason for their entry to Slovenia. To their response, that they fled the war in their home country Afghanistan, to find peace and education in another country, the police laughed.

“Even our cries were funny for them. I was really afraid, my baby was shouting a lot. It never happened before. I asked them to call the ambulance, to take my baby to the doctor. But they just said ‘No, sit, sit.’”

Another group member showed her wounded feet to the officers to get medicinal help. The response of the police was: “put it in your yocks, it´s not my business.”

The respondent described the police to be “like monsters”, and stated that “even a human is not allowed to behave with animals like that”.

Before the group had to get into the police van, the Slovenian police took their backpacks, electronic devices, scarfs, and jackets from them. The respondent described that the scent of the car was horrible, as it had the smell of vomit from other people. The windowless police car was only equipped with two benches, which meant that people had to sit on the floor. Due to the reckless driving style, the group members fell over each other and collided. 

“They act like we know nothing, we are not human, we are nothing, we have the lowest culture. They are like this, you know. When they sit in the car, they were just looking down at us. What is their behavior? I don´t know.”

The group members were taken to the police station, where they took fingerprints and pictures of them. Furthermore, they had to pay a fee of 380 euros, because they crossed the border irregularly. According to the officers, this is the rule in Slovenia.

“They put us in a container and locked the door.”

For one night the group members were locked into that container. They were given some dry cookies and water, which the respondent described were not enough to stave their hunger. The next morning, they were brought to the Slovenian-Croatian border. The phones were given back to the respondents, while the Slovenian officers kept their other belongings. At the border, they were handed over to two Croatian officers, who were dressed in light blue uniforms with “police” written on the back in Croatian. They were brought to a wooden house in the forest, where they spent approximately 1,5 hours. The Croatian officers took their phones away and broke their cameras. During midday, around 12 pm, the same officers brought them to the Croatian-Bosnian border.

The respondent described that it was a sunny day and that it was very hot. The mother of the baby asked the officers for water to give to her baby. The whole group was very thirsty, but she just wanted to get some water for her child, as he was sick. Nevertheless, the officers denied her request and said “Go, just go”. The group started walking and arrived at 10 or 11 pm in Velika Kladusa. There they got help from an organization, which provided them with food, clothes and brought them to the camp in Bihac. The friend of the respondent stated that she did not have enough strength anymore to get in or out of the car by herself. Later she found out that her baby got a stomach infection.

According to the respondent, most of the group members were left traumatized by their pushback experiences. The friend of the respondent wakes up during the nights, crying and kicking around her. She said that she dreams of being in the forest, caught by the police. Since the family already experienced three pushbacks, the way the children play together changed. Now, one child pretends to be the smuggler, and the other ones are the police officers.

The respondent wants to write a book about her experiences once she reached Europe. “So that everyone in the world see, see what, not just for me, so that they know about the situation, about the police what they have behavior, for the refugees what the refugees suffer in this travel.”