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Mugged by the Greek police officers during three subsequent pushbacks

Date & Time 2020-04-14
Location Evros/Meric river near Gemici, Turkey
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.32621396, 26.56662486
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 15 - 35
Group size 76
Countries of origin Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Morocco, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention no translator present, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Greek policemen in black uniforms and balaclavas

The respondent, a 35-year-old man from Morocco, was apprehended on the 14th of April by Greek authorities in Thessaloniki at 1:00 pm on April 14th at the Philoxenia food distribution site, together with two other Moroccans, both aged between 25 and 30 years old. The police arrived to the location with an unmarked white van with no windows and a Škoda car. One of the people apprehended had a registration paper issued by the police (“khartia”), but a policeman took it and ripped it apart. The policemen beat them with metal batons, put them in the van, and took them to a police station near the bus station of Thessaloniki. At the police station, they were put in a room together with 32 other people, some of which were minors, for a couple of hours. They were not given any access to food or water. After that, 5 officers wearing balaclavas took away people’s money, mobile phones, and shoes, and beat them.

Then the police took them to a large blue police bus with separate departments. Their belongings were never returned to them. There were four people squeezed in one bus compartment, and it was very hot with no air conditioning. 

They arrived at the Greek-Turkish border at 8:00 pm, after a 5 hour drive. There were other migrants being held at the border by authorities clad in black uniforms with Greek flags in their upper arms, wearing balaclavas. There were 76 migrants in total, from Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Morocco, and Algeria at the Evros/Meriç riverside, waiting to be pushed across the border to Turkey. The police were putting people in groups of 12 into a boat, operated by two persons that might have been from Pakistan, according to our respondent. Some people refused to enter the boat because they were afraid, but the police beat them and forced them into the boat.

After crossing the river, the people were caught by the Turkish gendarmerie, who took them to a detention camp in Edirne, where they were kept in quarantine for 20 days and then released.

The respondent was subsequently pushed back two more times across the same border. The first time, after he crossed the border from Turkey to Greece together with a 28 years-old Moroccan, they were caught by the Greek police right at the Evros/Meriç riverside on the border. They were directly pushed back to Turkey with no violence involved. 

The same two people crossed the border into Greece another time and managed to reach Kavala. On the 19th of June, they were apprehended by the Greek police in Kavala at 00:30 at night. The police started beating them immediately with fists and kicking them. Then they were put into a white van with the “Police” sign, and brought to a location where they were put into a blue van with no police signs or windows. This van took them to the Evros riverside on the border between Orestiada, Greece, and Edirne, Turkey. The journey lasted about 3 hours. Then the four Greek officers in black uniforms and balaclavas ordered the two persons-on-the-move to board the boat, operated by a man from Pakistan, which took them across the river to Turkey. From there, the pair walked to Edirne, where they took a taxi to Istanbul. Our respondent stayed in Turkey for 45 days, before he crossed the border into Greece again and managed to arrive in Thessaloniki.

In each of the subsequent pushbacks, the respondent’s mobile phone, money, and other belongings were stolen by the police.

“It just hurts when they take everything from you, they took the phones, the money…,” he said.