On the 15th of October, a transit group of thirty people was walking somewhere in Croatian woods. Twenty-eight of them originated from Pakistan, and two were from Afghanistan. The group members were aged from sixteen to twenty-seven years, and the respondent remembers that among them was also a child who was only eight or nine years old.
Following the respondent’s reconstruction of the events, the group walked in Croatia for about eighteen hours after they had crossed the border to Bosnia. They crossed road number D504, and shortly after, the police apprehended them. He remembers the group were apprehended around 2 or 2:30 pm. The people in the group heard multiple gunshots (he remembers twenty or twenty-three) and heard police yelling at them to stop. The respondent states that they tried to run away in different directions to avoid apprehension.
“They tell for me ‘stop!’, but we didn’t want to stop. We were running”.
However, the police managed to stop the group. The respondent describes that three policemen assaulted him and started to beat him violently.
“They beat me here. In the face they will beat me, in the stomach, in my legs. They will beat me. Three police. Two times in the head, and then with the stick, the black one. In my muscles (legs).“
After beating him, they also made fun of him and started joking about the situation.
“They tell for me ‘go to Afghanistan, fight for Talibans’. They tell for me ‘ok, next time you go to Italia'”.
Six policemen were present in the forest during the apprehension. They were wearing dark blue uniforms. According to the respondent, they were all very muscular and tall men. The respondent did not remember any inscription on the uniforms, but after the description he could give, it is most likely that these officers belonged to the Interventna Jednica Policija or the Croatian Granicna Policija [border police]. They told the members of the transit group to sit down, and they forced them to take off their shoes. That night the rain was very heavy. They took the people’s jackets, and they checked everyone. They also took people’s money and phones and did not hand it back.
“They take all things, and my hundred euros, and my phone, for all people they take money.”
The officers asked who the boss was, and they thought that the respondent was the boss.
“We don’t want talk to police. If we talk to police, they will beat me more. Because if me speak English they understand this is the boss. I’m not the boss, so that’s why me no speak English. Me only say ‘Pakistan, Pakistan’.”
The respondent claims that the police did also beat the young boy who was traveling with the group.
“One friend is nine years old. And they will beat that one. A kid. They will beat that kid. ‘Who is your boss?’ And they beat.”
After, the group waited in the forest for the arrival of a police car. Two white vans with no windows arrived, and the police officers forced the people to enter the vehicles, fifteen people per van. The respondent affirms that he could see the drivers because of a parting wall between the back and the driver’s cab, but he thinks there were two officers per van. He describes that they drove recklessly for two or three hours.
“All-time they drive right-left, right-left. Break and go, break and go. They will torture me. And they didn’t give me oxygen. That is important. They stop the oxygen. That car is all closed. That time is very bad.”
After that, the group arrived at the border. There, two policemen with blue clothes and face masks were awaiting them. The respondent described that the officers were shining with flashlights in the eyes of the people, and then beat them. They took the people’s belongings, and set them on fire.
“We couldn’t see anything, they take my all jackets, my shoes, and they will fire. For all (everybody). My blanket, my shoes, my laces, bag.
That night too much rain, we were sick in the morning (after).”
The respondent says that he was terrified to talk because normally when people speak, the police beats them. Since it was very dark, the respondent could not really give a description of the pushback-location. However, he claims that after being pushed back, the group had to walk for four or five hours to reach Bihac, through the main road that leads to Lipa.
“Please tell for the Croatian police: we don’t want like this. We won’t come here in this country, we will go in Italia, France. We don’t want to make problems for me. You beat me, you take my money, you take my phone, my all clothes. It’s not good. If you want deport me please, don’t take my phone, because we have persons there (contacts). It’s not good for all, not only for me, but for all people. So please don’t take my money. We don’t have family, we have problems in our country. Please, we need help. You see? My life is not good. We will cross the border, Iran, Turkey, Greece, we will come here and then we come here and you make problem for me. It’s not good for me. You beat me in my muscles, so after you beat me, sometimes my foot is broken, so what can I do?
I am not animal.”