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The authorities treated us worse than how you would treat animals

Date & Time 2023-03-28
Location Gradiska area
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.144313589397, 17.179501950131
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 17
Group size 180
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, Turkey
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, papers signed, no translator present, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 10
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), threatening with guns, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 10 Croatian border police officers, 1 police van, 4 buses

The respondents, two 17 years old minors from Afghanistan, were part of a transit group consisting of 6 people. On the 25th of March around 10 pm, after crossing a big river next to a church around Gradiska, the group heard someone shouting: “Don’t move or we will light fire on you!”.

At that point, the respondents reported that 10 people, that they identified as border police officers (men and women), stopped them, handcuffed the group members, and started hitting them using a weapon described by the respondents as “electric batons”. Right afterwards, the respondents stated that the officers took their phones, 500 euros from each person of the group and threw their clothes into the river.

The respondents described the violence saying: “The authorities treated us worse than how you would treat animals”. Then, the two minors reported that the authorities brought them to a place that looked like “a prison” inside a police station – that they were not able to identify – where they were forced to stay for few days with almost no food and water.

They gave us slices of bread just to survive

In the detention place, there were around 50 people in total, 10 in each little, cold, and dirty room. The respondents further recalled that, outside the police station, there was a big tent with more than 20 people inside.

Two days later, on the 27th of March at about 8pm the officers drove them – one hour away on a railway- to another place that was described by the respondents as a big, old and extremely cold warehouse.

We thought we were going to die because it was so cold and we had nothing to cover ourselves.

Upon their arrival, they were given what they identified as a readmission paper to sign, written in Croatian. They stated that hundreds of people were there, detained, and that they were all hungry and thirsty. One day and one night later, the authorities came again with 2 buses announcing they would have brought them to Italy or to Slovenia.

We were very happy, finally we had hope to go to Italy but then we realized they were driving us back to the border.

Around 180 people were on the buses when the respondents were brought to the Bosnian border. Then, the officers took all phones left from the people and 20 minutes later 2 other buses came from the Bosnian side of the border to take the people to the transit camps. “There were people from Afghanistan, Morocco, Iran and two families from Turkey”.