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Croatian border: “I told them: ‘Stop! You’re hurting me. I cannot breathe.’”

Croatian media outlets reported this week on the case of an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan who was subject to severe and inhuman treatment at the hands of Croatian authorities who was locked in a dark room, where officials questioned him and later “forced him to take his clothes off, made him get into water, where they released electricity through a [taser], which led to him losing consciousness.” During the incident, he suffered a broken rib, internal bleeding, and lost a significant amount of blood.

Originally published by No Name Kitchen Facebook page.

We are, of course, outraged at this event.

Outraged that an underaged child – a refugee – must experience this treatment at the external borders of the European Union. Outraged that the legal pathways for addressing these instances of violence seem so impossible. Perhaps moreso, we are outraged that incidents such as this are not isolated and that over the last year we have spoken to many individuals returning from Croatia with stories of abuse from Croatian authorities akin to torture – prolonged beatings with batons, repeated adminstration of electric shocks, and the forced immesion of oneself into near-freezing waterways.

More recently, we spoke to an 18-year-old from Algeria, after his return from Croatia, whose neck was marked with scars left after he was choked by a Croatian police officer using his own shirt as a sort of makeshift noose. In detail, the 18-year-old described to one of our volunteers who routinely logs the reports of individuals returning from the border how after telling screaming to the officers near him that he could not breathe, he was thrown onto the ground and kicked him in the face, breaking his nose. This boy’s account of this process follows below:

Until that point there hasn’t been a fight. But after they took us to the border, they opened the door and we could see them getting ready for beating….They beat us one by one and then they told us to go to Bosnia. There was a river to cross to enter Bosnia. So each of us crossed the river after being beaten up. Some people got beaten up hard, some people got beaten up less. Me, the last one, they beat a lot. The first and the last ones get beaten up the most. One grabbed my shirt and another one punched me. Like that I couldn’t protect my face. When the policeman got tired from beating, the second one grabbed the back of my shirt. I told them: “Stop! You’re hurting me. I cannot breathe.” He grabbed me like that and kicked my face two times with his leg… He [then] forced me on the ground and then kicked me…The one who kicked me on the face, hurt me so much. It felt like, when he beat me, my nose just cracked, it broke. And then I was bleeding for five hours. It was too much blood. When he saw that I was about to lose consciousness, he left me and within 5 seconds I ran. He was about to beat me more but I ran. Because when you enter Bosnia, he won’t follow. So we went.”

Instances such as this outrage us not because they are “new” but because they are routine. Through speaking and interacting with the products of this violence, we are reminded on a daily basis of the inherent violence of borders and the state authorities which patrol them. In this way, we will let our outrage and anger motivate us to resist this unjust and structural violence, wherever we encounter it.

The full report of the 18-year-old choked by authorities in Croatia:

Information about the event related to the unaccompanied minor tortured in Croatia:

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