The respondent reports being pushed back by Croatian authorities from Croatia to Serbia on 29th March 2022.
The 26-year-old started his journey from Velika Kladuša, BiH together with four other men. They walked for about four to five days through the forest until they reached Zagreb. There the group split up since all men wanted to try something else and could not agree on one way. Thus, the respondent was alone when he continued his way toward Rijeka by train. Between the transit communities, this transit attempt is usually called a ‘ticket game’ since the person on the move is not walking the entire way, but taking public transportation. However, for border crossings, they still have to walk to avoid border controls. Thus, he then tried to cross the border between Croatia and Slovenia by foot. His intention was to walk for about four to five hours through the forest to Italy. However, when the respondent tried to withdraw money close to the border, officers which he describes as Croatian police saw and apprehended him. According to him, there was a lot of police at the border because they understand that many people try to cross there. Regarding the officers that caught him, he could only see their eyes since they wore masks. Their uniform was green and there were also dogs. Based on this description it is likely that it was the Specijalna Jednica Policija – Special Police Team (SJP); although the black ski masks also indicate that it could have been Croatian Intervention police.
The police then brought him to what the respondent described as a jail. The drive to this location felt like two hours long, the respondent assumes it was located in Zagreb. He spent one day in that location. While he was detained he did not get any food or water, when he asked for the toilet, the police started hitting him.
“No, they doesn’t give you nothing.”
During this time the police told him that they would give him papers, however, after one day the respondent was driven to Serbia, he reports. The drive lasted for about six hours. He was alone during the drive, so he said that at least the car was not overcrowded.
“Alone does not make problem. You have a lot of people inside the small car does make a problem for them.”
At the border, the officers opened the doors and started to hit the respondent on the legs with batons so that he fell down. They then continued hitting him, he said that he received at least four blows. The respondent and a friend, who was translating during the interview, both told us that this technique is quite common. “First, they hit you on your legs, so that you fall and they can continue hitting you, you cannot run away anymore. If you have the chance you should run away as soon as the doors of the van open.”
“Every time when we get down from the car, the police hit you in the feet and you drop down. A lot of times. If you smart, you run, if not run you get down and they hit you one by one.”
At the pushback location there was a forest and a street with a lot of trucks, according to the respondent most of them were from Turkey. He said that he was approached by a man on the Serbian side of the border who offered him a taxi to Paris for 2000 Euros, which the respondent could not afford. This man then took his phone. After this, he spent about ten days in a camp in Serbia, whose name he, unfortunately, was unable to remember. He then walked back to Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina. On this walk, he had to endure snow and the cold. In total, he spent about 18 days on this game – transit attempt.