No Name Kitchen has been collecting reports about pushbacks from Croatia to Serbia or Bosnia during several months. And here we share with you one of the last reports.
Originally published by No Name Kitchen. Written by Karolina Augustová.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
In the morning, Saad, 36 years old man from Palestine came to the showers close to the informal camp in Velika Kladusa, where the No Name Kitchen provides showers. Saad could barely walk and looked disoriented and tired. He sat down on a chair and explained that he was brutally attacked by the Croatian police at the Bosnian border the previous night, when him and other 16 persons were being deported back to Bosnia:
“They made a half circle in front of the car and one by one called out of the car and beating him. There were children and woman. They also beat the woman because she tried to hide her phone under her clothes and they found out, so they hit her by a baton. Her children and we could see it. Children were crying. But the police did not care. They kept telling me: “Fuck you, fuck your mother”, and after shouting at us, “Heidi, go back to Bosnia!”. It was horrible, they were deporting us around 3 am and for three or four hours after, we were searching for each other in a forest. They were beating also an old man who was there with us and now has broken finger. … Do you have a cigarette? I have money [pulling ten marks out of his pocket], but I cannot go to the supermarket because I feel so dizzy and tired. I keep vomiting blood. I can’t eat anything as I vomit it out. I think I may have maybe internal bleeding from so many kicks into my body” (Saad).
Later in the afternoon, I met other four men who were together with Saad deported back to Bosnia. Mahmoud, 35 years old Syrian who could speak fluent English, explained to me what happened to him and his friends the previous night at the Croatian-Bosnian border. According to Mahmoud, him and 16 people, including one family with three children, walked from Sturlic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and crossed the border to Croatia, with the intention to apply for asylum in the EU. Mahmoud explained to me that all of them have difficult situations in their homelands, escaping war and violent governments, and for this reason they have searching for safety in Europe:
“We have very bad situation in our countries. Especially in my case, I have my brother in a prison in Palestine because of political reasons. My mother, they shot her on the way home in Syria. I have no way to go, only to Europe. His [Khalid] family is for three years lives in Austria. He tries to go with them, he is 64 years old and was kidnapped in Iraq. Abu’s family is in England, the same case. We don’t need European money, we need European safety” (Mahmoud).
Mahmoud then told me that when they were walking in Croatia, a forest road around 1 am, they could hear voices of police men and could see the light of torches in the dark. Soon after that, a police car with three officers arrived at the road where they were walking:
“The car was driving so fast that they almost crashed the family with kids who were on the road. We [the men] were hiding at first, but we came out because we did not want to cause any problems and did not want to leave the family there” (Mahmoud).
Few minutes later, other three police cars arrived with other ten officers who wore dark blue uniforms. Abu remembered the registration number of one of the cars: HR (CROATIAN FLAG) ZG 156. The police told all people to put their bags in front of them and remove their phones, which the officers took from them. A woman, mother of three children, said to the police that she did not have a phone, but when the officers frisked her body, they found a phone hidden under her clothes. Mahmoud told me, that when the police discovered that she hid her phone, they physically attacked her by a baton in front of her children, who were crying:
“It was very hard for us because we saw our woman being beaten by the Croatian police and we could do nothing. They beat her so much by baton” (Mahmoud).
The police did not ask the people any questions, police apparently even did not know their names, and directly drove them to the Bosnian border for their deportation. The police told all 17 people to enter a small van, where was a lack of oxygen and people had problem to breath inside during their transportation:
“They put us in car. We are 17 persons with the children, they put us into very small car, van, into a boot. They were driving very fast, like on purpose. Salah and others started vomiting inside and children started crying. It was really awful. It was harder than the beating” (Mahmoud).
After 30 minutes of journey, the car stopped at the Bosnian border. The police opened the van and said to all people to come out either individually or in pairs. Then, the officers physically attacked them by batons and kicks while pushing them back to Bosnia, including Khalid, who is 64 years old:
“They told us to go one by one or two by two, and they beat us. When they opened the car, Salah was still vomiting, and they saw him vomiting and they started beating him. They hit him into his arm … when they told me to come out of the car, they asked me: “Where are you from?”, and I said to them: “I am from Syria”. He answered: “What is the matter with Syria?!”, and started beating, beating, beating and after, he told me: “Go!”. Ok, so when I started walking I had pass all of them, 9 police men, while they were all attacking me by batons” (Mahmoud).
“They [the police] threw a water on me and Salah, with bottle of the water on our heads and after, they beat us with sticks [batons]. They put my shoes on my chest and head and said very hard words to me. I fell, and they kept beating me although I was on the ground. I was rolling, and they kept beating me” (Abu).
All were trying to run away while they were being beaten, but in a remote forest location in the dark night, they struggled to find the way out. Abu told me that they lost their bags when they were trying to escape. When the police finished beating all of them and they could hear them driving away from the point of their deportation, all started searching for each other and for their bags. Mahmoud told me that later, when they were walking from the place where they got deported, they found many broken phones and cut chargers on the way from the previous deportations of other people in the same place. Abu also said to me that that they could hear scream of other people from far away who were also being deported and attacked by the police in the same night:
“When we found each other, they [police] brought other persons to the same point and we could hear their voices. We could hear screaming like a hell. We were very afraid because we could hear lots of crying from far away. The kids were very afraid. We could hear lots of crying noises” (Mahmoud).
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERPETRATORS
Abu remembered the registration number of the police car in which they were deported to the Bosnian border: HR (CROATIAN FLAG) ZG 156. The men described the police officers in the following way: “There was one big, 1,95 meters or something. One fat guy, he could be forty years old, he was the boss. There was also a young female police officer.”
INJURIES AND MEDICAL TREATMENT
Khalil, a 64-years old man, has broken finger caused by the attack, push and kicks, by the police officers. Others have scratches and bruises around their body (back, arms, legs) caused by the physical attack by kicks and batons (viz. photos of injuries below). Saad keeps vomiting blood and currently waiting for a medical investigation in a hospital whether he has an internal injury caused by the kicks into his body.
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