Afghan referee does not see fair play in EU border policies
Felika Kladusa Ibrahim Rasoul loved his job as a referee because of the sportsmanship and fair play. But the 33-year-old Afghani says there is nothing fair in the way the European Union treats people flocking to its borders in search of a better life.
Rasoul told The Associated Press that police in Croatia ignored pleas from a pregnant woman and families with young children and instead deported him and 16 others to Bosnia when they crossed into the European country this month.
Rasul provided a video that he said he filmed inside a Croatian police car and in a forest on Croatia’s border with Bosnia. Rasool said that the Croatian police insulted the people who tried to enter and asked them to return to Afghanistan.
Croatian police did not respond to the Associated Press’s request for information about the alleged border incident on November 10.
Rasul said, “The police did not (care) about children, pregnant women, women, nor anyone.” “They showed (us) the gun, (say) ‘Don’t move. Whoa. We’re police.'”
The video provided by Rasool showed people crouched inside a fenced transport vehicle, which included women and young children. In the jungle video, men apparently carry a pregnant woman in a blanket. Neither video can be independently verified.
Rasool said Croatian police told the group that there was no place in the European Union for individuals from Afghanistan, referring to the migrants as “animals” and “filthy people”.
Croatian police faced multiple accusations of pushing back migrants and refugees and using violence to do so. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last week against Croatia in a 2017 opposition case after a 6-year-old Afghan girl was killed by a train.
Although Croatian authorities were forced last month to suspend three special police officers who were filmed beating migrants with batons while forcing them out of Croatia, they have dismissed accusations of systematic and widespread abuses of migrants in the border area.
Rasoul and his group are stuck in a makeshift camp near the Bosnian border town of Velika Kladusa. The camp has no facilities other than makeshift tents, but Rasoul said it is still better than the official migrant camps “because we are free.”
Immediately after leaving Afghanistan four years ago, Rasul went first to Iran, then to Turkey and Greece. He came to Bosnia two months ago via Albania and Montenegro after staying in Greece for more than three years. Despite being repeatedly turned back at the Croatian border, Rasul and his fellow migrants will try to cross again as quickly as possible.
Once in Croatia, immigrants seek to go to Italy or Slovenia before moving on to the richest countries in Western Europe. Several thousand people are still stuck across the Balkans looking for a chance to reach the European Union.
“We can’t stay in Bosnia because the weather will be very cold” soon, Rasul said.
Rasoul provided the AP with copies of FIFA-approved referee certificates and photos from some of the hundreds of futsal matches he played in Afghanistan. He said he fled his homeland due to disagreements with the Afghan Football Association’s administration.
“I want to complete my work, I want to go back to my normal life,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which country.”
Futsal is a form of soccer that is played on much smaller hard courts and primarily indoors.
While in Greece, Rasoul trained refugee teams. In Bosnia, he was seen playing soccer with children and other men in the camp. Going home to Afghanistan is not an option, especially after NATO forces withdrew and the Taliban took over again.
But Rasoul said his hopes for a brighter future in the West have been badly dented by treatment on the Croatian border. The fourth time he tried to cross into Croatia, the police seized all of his money and made fun of him and the others.
“They stole from the refugees,” he said. “They think we are animals, not humans.”
He said the Taliban, Croatia and other EU governments are all playing into people’s lives.
“If the EU accepts this” with the position of the Croatian border police, he will be no better than the Taliban, he said.
Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of immigration issues at https://apnews.com/hub/migration
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