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They put us in the river, they said, go back, go back

Date & Time 2022-09-20
Location Gornji Žirovac, Croatia
Reported by Blindspots
Coordinates 45.1209105, 16.1342123
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age unknown
Group size 25
Countries of origin Burundi
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other)
Police involved 3 Croatian officers, 1 police van

On the 20th of September a group of 25 people from Burundi, including women and minors, tried to cross the border from Bosnia to Croatia and were pushed back by Croatian officers.

After the transit group crossed the border, the respondent reported that they called a number that he was told was the IOM, to bring them to a camp in Croatia, but the person on the phone reportedly told them to call the police first, so they called the police.

They told us to call IOM to help us, to bring us to the camp of Croatia and to help us with medical assistance, shoes, clothes. But IOM told us to call the police first, then we called the police“.

It was 6pm in the evening when officers came. According to the respondent 3 Croatian officers came and put the group of 25 people in one police van. They reportedly did not have access to water, food, fresh air, light, or toilet.

It was a small bus, we were 25 people, problems of breathing“.

As the respondent reported, the officers never spoke English to them. After two hours of staying in the van without driving, the officers drove the group to another place at the border. The officers dropped the group at a river where other officers were waiting for them. The group was commanded by the officers to go back to Bosnia across the river, explained the respondent.

They put us in the river”. They said, “go back, go back“.

The transit group started running towards Bosnia after they were reportedly beaten by the officers. The group walked 6 or 7 hours to a place where they could stay.

We arrived here at 4 am, walking, it was so cold.

On their way back they realised that they had lost four people of their group. The respondent said they managed to have contact with the four people. The officers had reportedly caught them again because they could not run fast enough, told them to sit down and beaten them up. After that the four people walked from the Croatian border to Bihać.

One member of the transit group’s injured hand after being beaten