Croatian territory. Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chennedu arrived in Croatia to participate in a table tennis tournament in Pula on November 12th. They did not know that their sporting competition would end in a nightmare.
Originally published by Are You Syrious. Image above: Stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Adi Kebo/zurnal.info)
After the tournament was over, their group went to Zagreb on November 17th to prepare for their flight to Istanbul, which was the next morning. That night, Alexandro and Chinedu went out and were reportedly stopped by the Croatian police. One of them described the ordeal to the Bosnian newspaper Žurnal:
On entering the tram, we were stopped by the police. They took us to the police station. We tried to explain who we were and that our documents were in the hostel. They did not pay attention to what we were saying.
The police then put the two in a van and drove them to a forest on the Bosnian border. When Kenneth Chinedu refused to enter the woods, saying he had never even been to Bosnia, the police kicked them and threatened to shoot them. Some other people also being pushed back helped them reach Miral camp in Velika Kladuša, from where the two young men were able to call their colleagues who were still back in Zagreb to mail them their passports. After IOM confirmed their identities, their case was given to the Sarajevo-based legal organization Your Rights.
A video interview with Chinedu and Alexandro can be found here. The two are still stuck at Miral Camp as of this writing. We reported yesterday on the horrible conditions in the Bosnian camps, where people are not given adequate shelter from the bitter winter cold. It is difficult to even imagine what any of the people living there must be going through, including these students.
Unfortunately, this incident is simply the latest in a litany of violent acts the Croatian police has committed. The police claims they have no record of having deported the boys, but they mostly don’t when they deport other boys, men, students, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, even children, to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The point is not that wrongdoing was made in the case of these two students simply because somewhere they had their passports, nor were they the first ones to be expelled from Croatia to Bosnia and Heregovina although they were never in that country, but the case simply brings the current illegal practice to a new, bizarre level.
In the past two and a half weeks alone, the police shot two people and the government justified their actions by claiming the latest victim was “resisting deportation actively.” The increased police presence and militarization of the Croatian border, coupled with the racist and far-right turn that the state has taken in recent years, show that all people who are seen as “different” from the status quo are in danger of violence, regardless of immigration status.
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