Over HRK 60,000 Raised for AYS Volunteer to Help Him Pay Fine

By 16 December 2021
Over HRK 60,000 Raised for AYS Volunteer to Help Him Pay Fine
Photo: Are You Syrious?/Facebook

ZAGREB, 16 Dec 2021 - Over HRK 60,000 (€8,000) has been raised in less than 24 hours to help activist Dragan Umičević pay the fine for helping the Hussiny family from Afghanistan to illegally cross the border into Croatia, the non-governmental organization Are You Syrious? (AYS) said on Thursday.

Umičević, a volunteer with Are You Syrious, helped the Afghan family to illegally enter Croatia and apply for asylum in March 2018. Police pressed charges against him for assisting in the crossing of the border illegally, and the High Administrative Court has fined him HRK 60,000 and ordered him to pay HRK 1,300 in court costs. 

In less than 24 hours, 247 citizens raised HRK 62,691 to help Umičević pay the fine, AYS said in a statement.

The Hussiny case attracted a lot of media attention because six-year-old Madina Hussiny was killed by a train on 21 November 2017 during the illegal expulsion of her family from Croatia, which has been recently confirmed in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The family was again expelled during the night between 7 and 8 March 2018. After entering Croatia for the third time in the night between 20 and 21 March 2018, fearing another expulsion, they contacted AYS for assistance in seeking asylum.

AYS explained to them that only the police can grant them asylum and referred them to the nearest police checkpoint. Umičević was asked to go to the border police checkpoint and say that there was a refugee family in their vicinity wishing to apply for asylum.

Although he acted in accordance with the law and civic conscience, he was charged with assisting in the illegal crossing of the state border, AYS said, noting that the Ministry of the Interior had demanded a draconian fine of HRK 320,000 (€42,700) and imprisonment for Umičević as well as a ban on the operation of AYS, the NGO said.

"The citizens of Croatia have shown that they will not allow an act of kindness to be punished, especially when real criminals are given far more lenient sentences or walk away free," AYS said. "We are proud of the messages of support we are getting and most of all we are proud of our volunteer Dragan who was one of the few people who lent a helping hand to the family of the girl Madina in the most difficult of times for them."

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