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“Fuck You Croatia”: violent pushbacks of children at the European borders

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  • Reading time:5 mins read

By Mirka Del Pasqua and Joe Boon. Photos by Anon and Joel Sames

  • **About the title: The quote is from the video that the people from this story have shown us of the pushback suffered, but as NNK we want to remind that those pushbacks from Croatia are backed and supported by all the European Union countries and its authorities, who are aware of this situation and keep sponsoring it.

A hand covered in blood shakes whilst dogs bark in the background. These are the dogs of the Croatian police. They have just been pushed back. We met a group of young men, some of them children and show our team in Bosnia and Herzegovina a video in their phone.

The hand is of T. a minor from Morocco. Following the trembling hand you can see his other three companions lying on the ground, exhausted having just been brutalised by the police.

“The price of this journey is too much. The route cost me and my family €5,000 that we don’t have. My family had to borrow the money.” (People pay money to get these ways to migrate, as there are no legal and safe ways to do so).

T. says looking away, concealing his tears. “I think about going back to Morocco. I feel sick. I feel sick in my head. Sometimes I want death, it’s better than this torture.”

T. has been pushed back 7 times now. The trauma from his most recent push back and the physical violence of it he carries with him.

Police violence

The police beat him to the ground and kicked his friend in the face, till they broke arms and smashed phones, he feels they wanted to kill them. For him everything is unbearable; the loan to his family, the violence he has experienced at just 17 years old, the fact he’s still on the move. It’s all too much. He doesn’t have the tools to deal with this. But who does?

“I’m a boxer, but when the police kicked me I couldn’t defend myself as I had done for years in the ring.” said G. Shown in the video lying on the floor writhing around in pain. He shows us the areas he was beaten, his shoulders, his legs, his jaw. He has pain when he eats since then.

G. is not the only one who is unable to eat. T. has not eaten properly since that day. He’s lost his appetite. His brother tries to make him laugh and smile, the same guy in the video who tried to stand but was in too much pain.

The fourth person in the video P. joins our conversation, he has a scabbed scratch running down the side of his face, a present from the Croatian police. He asks his friends to come and have some tea.

We’re having a party in the area outside the Borići camp, the camp for women and minors. Whilst walking towards the festivities, T. shares how much of a relief it is to talk with us. We can see how important it is for him to be listened to, to denounce the violence through his words and with his body.

He doesn’t eat, but he has some tea and smiles with his friends. He cannot join the football because his arm is in a sling, but he enjoys seeing their tricks, laughs, and a friend pretending to play the guitar, people making funny poses for photographs, his friends wife embroidering with NNK volunteers.

The atmosphere of the party is relaxed and inclusive, the more time we spend there the more people join. Everyone is very enthusiastic as the music plays. The minors of Borići really need this, as they are so young and anything to take their minds of their experiences is a welcome relief.

We say goodbye and good luck to them all and let them know we will be here next week to listen, talk and have fun.