A Bosnian volunteer has handed over more than 1,600 pages of media reports and personal testimonies to Austria’s parliament, documenting the brutality of Croatia’s border police against irregular migrants.
Zehida Bihorac, a Bosnian volunteer from Velika Kladusa in northern Bosnia, spoke to the Austrian lawmakers on behalf of SOS Balkanroute, a humanitarian organisation.
Bihorac told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that the migrants and refugees encounter violence in Bosnia as well from groups, individuals or police officers who believe that rough treatment will discourage them from staying in the country.
“They have nowhere to go. They are stuck in Velika Kladusa,” said Bihorac, calling on the European Union to take action.
Migrants and refugees enter the EU irregularly and cross the Croatian-Bosnian border to reach Germany and northern European countries.
Bihorac told the Austrian legislators earlier this month that the irregular migrants suffered “systematic violence” at the border in Croatia.
Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic wrote on Facebook after the speech by Bihorac: “We are very thankful to hard-working NGOs and individuals who make sure these people receive humanitarian aid.
“Many refugees are still minors. We now need close cooperation between civil society and politics to finally end this situation on Europe’s borders,” she said.
According to one of the reports by EUobserver, an online not-for-profit newspaper reporting on the European Union, Croatian police officers in April took clothes and shoes from refugees and migrants and forced them to walk back to Bosnia.
“The images are frightening, and even more so the lack of reaction from the European Union,” EUobserver reported, saying that impunity had become the rule at the border and that reports of violence by Croatian police still have not been checked.
“Men, women, teenagers and entire families are under attack. They are being physically abused, arbitrarily detained and their property is destroyed,” it said.