On 10th October at 5 am a group of 20 people from Afghanistan was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia, near the city of Velika Kladuša, in the area of Rajnovac (45.216560, 15.891216).
On the 10th of October the respondent, a man from Afghanistan, along with a group of several people, left from Velika Kladuša in an attempt to cross the Croatian border. The group walked for around 5 kilometres to the border with Croatia. Then they walked for around 2 kilometres into Croatian territory and at around 4.40 am they were apprehended, reportedly, by a group of Croatian officers. The respondent reported there were around 100 people at the border at the time they were apprehended.
The respondent stated that he saw two vehicles, described as big police vans, white and with a blue stripe in the middle. The description matches the Croatian police prisoner transport van. He explained that 20 people out of the 100 that were apprehended, including the respondent himself, were separated from the group. This transit group of 20 persons consisted of people only from Afghanistan. Reportedly, the oldest member was 55 years old, and the youngest was 10. The rest of them were between 20-26 years old.
The respondent described the people who apprehended them as three police officers (two men and a woman) wearing dark blue uniforms. He reported experiencing violence from the officers; six young men in the transit group were beaten by both male officers with batons and were also kicked. One of the group members reportedly got his eye severely injured, while the others were kicked in their back, their sides, and their faces.
“When someone laid on the ground, the police would hit him so hard that they wouldn’t be able to stand up”.
During this time, the officers didn’t speak in English, neither did they use any translator. The respondent stated that the officers shouted a lot, and that even if they couldn’t understand what they were saying, it felt like a mockery.
“All of the group experienced violence, but one of them was beaten so hard and so frequently that he was laying on the ground. The police saw that and started laughing at him, making fun of him. It felt like they were saying “let’s hit him again”. Even if we didn’t understand what the police was saying, we knew that they were making fun of us and they were enjoying hitting us”
While the two male officers were the ones that perpetrated the physical violence, the respondent reported that the female officer was laughing.
During the time they were stuck at the border, the respondent explained that their phones were taken by the officers: “I know why they took the mobile phones, they hit us, and they didn’t want anyone to see or record”. Also, he reported that pictures of them were taken, while the officers shouted that if they ever saw them again, they would know who they were by checking those pictures, and that they would hit them harder.
After a while, the group of 20 people was loaded into one of the vans. As the respondent stated, after an approximated 30 minutes drive they were taken into what he believed was a police station.
The respondent wasn’t able to give any details about the police station, but he reported to have been there for an hour and a half to two hours. During this time they reportedly never got anything to eat or drink. No procedure was started to register their asylum requests even though the respondent explained they expressed intention to seek asylum, and no translator was present. After this time in the police station, the group was again taken into a van.
The respondent recounted that in the van there was not enough space for all 20 people. He added that during the ride to the push back point, the driving was reckless; too fast and shaky. The inside of the van was dark, and the sudden movements and reckless driving made people inside the van feel sick and scared of having a crash.
“The driver drove so fast that most of the people were sick, and some vomited, it was a horrible journey and it hurt. It was dark and it shook a lot, there was a lot of up and down on the road and we had the feeling that the car would fall down since it was so fast”
The drive lasted an approximated 30-45 minutes, and then they were reportedly dropped in Bosnian territory, around the village of Rajnovac.