“When I see police and my friends run, I sit because I know I can’t run, and if police catch me when I run even more problem.”
The respondent explaiend that on the 10th of May 2022, a group of seven people from Pakistan took a bus from the bus station in Bihać (BiH) to the neighboring city Velika Kladuša (BiH). From there, the group reportedly continued walking to Vrnograc (BiH), crossed the border into Croatia, and kept on walking until they reached the city Glina (Croatia). According to the respondent, the group was walking from morning time til evening. All seven group members were near Glina in the “jungle” (referring to the forests in the outskirts of the city). They reported being close to a bridge leading across the river Glina.
The respondent explained that the group remembered seeing 5 men in uniform close to the road outside of the forest. Out of fear to get intercepted, 5 of the 7 group members reportedly started running away, into the forest. The respondent further stated that he could not run due to his health conditions and injuries from previous pushbacks. The people in uniform saw the respondent and his friend and started running towards them. The respondent recognized badges on the uniforms of the three male police officers and identified them as Glina local police officers.
“The one police was so cruel. So cruel, you know they are […] cruel, police has these big heavy shoes, so hard with steel in them.”
The respondent shared that he sat down when he saw the people in uniform. He assumed that if they catch him while trying to escape, it could further escalate the situation. “When they see me sitting on the ground, they started kicking me”, the respondent said.
Moreover, the respondent remembered being shouted at and insulted by the people in uniform while he was being asked questions such as why the respondent’s friends run away. The respondent said that the people in uniform wanted the respondent to call his friends and make them return to the spot where they were first seen by the people in uniform. Reportedly, the respondent answered that he did not have a Croatian phone number and that he could therefore not make a call. After this, he said that one man in uniform hurt him “really a lot” by kicking him while he was still sitting on the ground. The respondent added that the man who was kicking him, was wearing steel-toe shoes.
“I said to police ‘We have some food in the bag’, police said ‘No’, and police kicked us.”
Furthermore, the respondent told that he and his friend were very hungry. He said that he asked the people in uniform if they could have some of the food in their backpacks. According to the respondent, the people in uniform reacted by saying “no” and continued kicking both, the respondent and his friend. The respondent said that the people in uniform then made a phone call. From what he understood they were calling for support. He understood that they were saying on the phone that the additional people in uniform should come to their location as they were arresting two people, assuming that there were more in the forest.
“We asked for asylum, police say ‘No stay, go Italia!'”
The respondent and his friend expressed their intention to apply for asylum in Croatia. The respondent said that the people in uniform answered to the asylum request with “No stay. go Italia!”. After expressing the intention to apply for asylum, the respondent was told by the people in uniform to be silent and not to say anything more. The people in uniform, described as “cruel” by the respondent, started kicking the respondent again. After that, the latter explained that his phone, money, belt, and lighter were taken by the people in uniform. They then put both persons into what was described as a “deport car” or “coffin” as the respondent called it, described as a van with a cell at its back.
In this van, the transit group was driving back to the Croatian Bosnian border. There the respondents were reportedly asked to leave the car and forced to cross the border into Bosnia. From the border area, they returned to Vrnograc by walking where they slept one night. Both were left with no money and no phones and started asking for money to pay for the bus to get back to Bihac.
“He kicked me more and more hard, I don’t know why.”
The respondent ended his testimony by raising some questions such as “Why they doing like this with us? They know we are not living in Croatia, but that we want to continue to Italy or Germany.“ The respondent also asked why the Croatian-Bosnian border is such a problem for “them” and if Croatia is in the European Union. The respondent also reported that he cannot walk after the kicking of the people in uniform as they hurt his knee. He said that he was in a lot of pain.