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They took my shoes, I had to walk 30 km with no shoes

Date & Time 2022-10-30
Location Bihać, Bosnia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 44.94918592, 15.76272939
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 8 - 30
Group size 8
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Iraq
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 6-10
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, dog attacks, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 6 Croatian border police officers; 1 police car and 1 police van

On the 30th October (Sunday) the respondent, a 22 years old young man from Afghanistan, was pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia in the area of Bihać. He was part of a bigger group consisting of 7 other people: another Afghan man and a Kurdish family from Iraq.

Reportedly, the morning of the 30th October, the respondent, together with the transit group, left Velika Kladuša bus station at 4 am. They walked for 2 hours until they reached the Croatian border, 5 km from Kladuša, in the area of Gejkovac.  They crossed the border at 10 am, and in the forest next to a “main road“, the group was apprehended by who the man refers to as “the croatian police“. Reportedly, one police vehicle was spotted at first: it was small, white and with a blue stripe on it. Two police officers came out of it. The officers were described as dressed in black and brown.

The respondent states that the group had to stay sat in the same spot were they were apprehended for around 30 minutes. Then, a new police vehicle approached them, this time described as a white van with a blue stripe. Reportedly, 4 police officers came out of this vehicle, two of them wearing ski masks to cover themselves. They also had a police dog with them.

At this point, the respondent states that the transit group was divided. The respondent himself started running to escape from the police officers, and the family, together with the other Afghan man, stayed sat in the same spot. As he describes the situation, the police dog chased him, so he stopped shortly after to not be attacked by the dog. He sat down, put his hands in the air and when the police got closer to him, as he reports, they started to beat him. He recalls being kicked and beaten with two different kind of batons, a black medium sized one and a gray deployable baton. He declares to have been sprayed on his neck, and that his shoes were taken away as well.

They beat me a lot, a lot, now I have pain in my kidney and my back. Also, they took my shoes, I had to walk 30 km with no shoes“.

As the respondent states, in the meantime his friend stayed in the same place they were when the police arrived to help the family, because he knew they couldn’t run. Reportedly, his friend was severly hit and kicked by the Croatian police that got out of the van, his phone and money were taken from him and he never got them back.  As the respondent declares, they also slapped both kids (8 and 12 years old) in the face and beat both parents, the mother being pregnant.

“We were all scared, very scared.”

According to the interviewee’s description, one of the officers stood next to the van’s door while the others led the members of the transit group into the van, shouting “get up, get up!“. The respondent further reports that, when they were about to enter into the van, one of the police officer standing next to the door would beat them in the back with his baton.

The young man declares to have been driven for around an hour until the van stopped and dropped them off in the sourroundings of Bihać; he doesn’t remember the exact location but he states it was next to a “main road“. They walked for around 30 km to come back to Velika Kladusa, the respondent being barefoot, since the officers never gave him the shoes back. As he declares, they had to ford three rivers, and for doing so, he had to take the kids in his arms. After crossing the rivers, they tried to hitchhike and they walked on the main road to get back to Velika Kladuša.