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If I would have documents, why would I take this risky way?

Date & Time 2018-11-25
Location Basara, Croatia, Croatian/Bosnian border, Basara/ Rakovica, Croatia
Reported by Border Violence Monitoring Network
Coordinates 45.032348, 15.761138
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 21 - 26
Group size 11
Countries of origin Pakistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, gunshots, lifting up and throwing to the ground
Police involved 6 Croatian officers in camouflage, several police officers, 6 officers wearing balaclavas

The group of 11 walked for 11 days, mainly on snow covered ground, from Bihać (BIH) towards Rijeka (HRV). By walking through the forests during the days and on the road during the night, they covered a distance between 30 and 35 km per day. On their way, they saw many wild animals. Near Rijeka (HRV),  six Croatian officers in light green uniform caught them. Four of the 11 started to run away, but three officers immediately chased them and caught them all.

When I see police in blue uniforms I run, but when I see army police, I don’t run.” (The respondent has used the term ‘army police’ here to refer to those individuals in light green uniforms).

The officers were screaming:

Stop running, why are you running?!”

One of them shot a bullet in the air.

In general, the officers treated them well compared to other Croatian officers in blue uniforms. Because the group of 11 hadn’t eaten anything for three days, they were starving, and the officers gave them fish and whiskey. One of them somehow tried to connect with the respondent whilst waiting for the Croatian officers and showed him a photo of an Indian friend who is a cook.

He thought I am Indian, you white people think we look all the same, but I know the difference between Pakistan and Indian people.”

Afterwards the group of 11 was brought to the police station in Rijeka (HRV). At the police station they were asked for their documents and the respondent answered:

If I would have documents, why would I take this risky way?”

At this time there were about 100 people on the move detained at the police station. They took photos from each of the 11 individuals and asked them about their names and country of birth, names of their parents and why they came to Croatia. No fingerprints were taken, no translation to their mother language was provided, and they received no medical treatment. All of them signed a paper with their personal information, which was never handed out to them. They were told that they would be brought to Zagreb and would be able to apply for asylum there, which turned out to be a lie.

After just one hour at the station, the group of 11 and nine other people on the move were brought in a prisoner van to a spot at the CroatianBosnian border near Velika Kladuša. When the van‘s doors were opened, they faced two rows of officers standing next to the back door.

Six officers wearing balaclavas and batons were then beating the 20 individuals violently, except one minor. One after another had to get off the van and was punched and kicked from each side. The respondent asserts that this technique is called the Tunnel-Trick.

The respondent explained how two officers took his arms and legs, lifted him up and threw him on the ground. He said that he was lucky and didn’t fall so hard on the ground, but his shoulder was still hurting after one month.

The other respondent was separated by two of the officers, had to kneel on the ground and was beaten with fists, batons and kicks. He was injured on his head and bleeding (see photo).

Coordinates of capture: 45.558001, 14.075889