The respondent is a 34-year-old Pakistani man that was moving with a larger group. In total, the transit group consisted of 17 men and one minor (17 years old) from Pakistan. They left Velika Kladusa, BiH in the early morning hours on the 22nd of May and started walking towards Sturlic, BiH. In this area, they crossed the green border into Croatia and kept walking in the forested areas in Croatian territory.
At around 6 am, the group crossed highway D1 in the area of Slunj and kept on walking in the forest on the other side of the road. After 2 or 3 kilometres the men decided to sit down and take some rest and wait for the strong rain to stop. The respondent explained that while they were sitting on the ground, two police officers with one police dog detected the group and approached them. The respondent remembers that they were in the area of the village Slunjčica when this happened. (Approximate location: 45.081674, 15.551296)
The respondent claimed that the police must have identified his group through binoculars while patrolling in the area. He described how his group did not see the officers at first because the police officers had taken off the badges of their dark uniforms, which normally state the name of the police unit. These badges are written in white-colored letters and would therefore make them visible during the night.
“The white sticker was off [their uniforms]. So that we could not see them. Because the badge is white and you can see it in the dark, but so it was all dark. So we can’t see them from far away.”
The respondent explained that since the two policemen were with a police dog, none of the group tried to run away when they saw the police approaching them in the darkness.
“Because if police have a dog and you try to run away, then they will let the dog run after you. And the dogs are very big and very aggressive.”
The respondent described how the police searched the group and made them hand over their phones and power banks, and afterwards, made the group follow them. They were walking through the forest until they reached a gravel road, which they then followed. The respondent insisted that the walk lasted for what felt like 2 hours to him.
“One is in the front, one is in the back with the dog. You can’t run. Also they took all of our phones and powerbanks. There is no way to find the right way if you run away. You will get lost in the forest.”
At about 8 or 9 am, the group arrived at a place that the respondent described as an “army base place”. Trying to locate this place on the map, he estimated that it might have been on this location: 45.109871, 15.533213, where some bigger buildings can indeed be seen in the forest (see picture below). These buildings are about 6 kilometers from the place where the respondent described being apprehended.
“One army officer came down and opened the gate. It was a big gate. It was army building, army houses like an army camp.”
The respondent explained that they were all brought inside this place and had to hand over their bags and jackets. These were piled up on the ground. Shortly after, the group were put into a van and driven to the border with BiH. They left the van at a place in the forest where the Croatian-Bosnian border is formed by the river Korana.
“We left the van and then we saw a river. So, on one side, you have Croatia and on the other side you have Bosnia, and between is the water. Two canals.”
At this place, the respondent says the men were awaited by several police officers that were positioned on different sides at this point.
“Let me explain you. There were many police officers. Three were standing on one side and three on the other side. And two were standing next to a black car that is usually with them. At first we weren’t allowed to see what is happening. But we could hear people scream. Scream very loudly, it was very terrible.”
Later the respondent found out that another group of Pakistanis had been pushed back at the same location shortly before them and it was their screams they were hearing while waiting for their turn.
According to the respondent, they then had to line up and were beaten several times on different parts of their bodies for about 10 minutes.
“They were beating us with the very long stick. From right to left. […] I think I was beaten 5 times. Everyody was beaten like 5, 7, 10 times.”
The respondent claimed that the man that was primarily beating them with the “very long stick” was not wearing a normal police uniform, but
“a very long raincoat. It was a very, very long raincoat. It was very strange. You know from the face to his feet a huge raincoat. And this guy was the worst. He did not wear a uniform. Just normal clothes. Like jeans and trainers.”
Allegedly, the stick that he was beating them with was not a police baton but a branch that they had taken out of the woods.
“This stick was too heavy.”
The respondent described how, before they were finally asked to walk back into Bosnia, the group was forced to squat down in a position that was described as a “duck-position”. Staying in this squatted position, all lined up, the group had to ‘walk’ for 20 to 40 meters. Meanwhile, the police were watching them and making fun of the group.
“We had to squat like ducks and then walk in this position. The police made fun of us, while we had to make a duck-walk.”
After they had crossed back into Bosnia, in the area of Sturlic (about one kilometre from a gas station), they started to walk back towards Velika Kladusa, where they arrived later that evening.
Upon their arrival in Kladusa, most group members went to the local refugee camp “Miral” to seek medical treatment. Only the respondent and one of his friends went directly back to the place where they were staying and were later seen by a group of medical volunteers, who examined their injuries:
“One male had a large tense acutely tender hematoma of the left calf with superficial bruising of the calf and thigh. He also had multiple small posterior scalp hematomas and wheals/bruising on his upper back in a cross shape, consistent with being recently struck with a linear object. The other male had superficial bruising of the thigh.”