The respondent, a 24 year-old man from Morocco, was reportedly apprehended at KTEL Kavala bus station between 1-2pm in August 2022, approximately 10 days after crossing the border from Turkey to Greece. The respondent reported that he was transferred to a police station in Kavala first and to an army base near the Evros river later that day. He was reportedly pushed back during sunset of the same day together with approximately 80 people from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and other nationalities. This group reportedly included women, children and men. Prior to this incident, the respondent has reportedly experienced five pushbacks from Greece to Turkey.
The respondent reported that he had crossed the border to Greece together with two other men from Morocco aged 17 and 28. The group reportedly had to split up a few days after arriving in Greece and the respondent carried on by himself. The respondent recalled arriving at KTEL Kavala bus station when he was approached by a man whom the respondent described as “undercover police”. This officer reportedly identified himself by showing his police ID to the respondent. The respondent further reported that there was another officer who approached him from the back and reportedly handcuffed him. The respondent described this officer as wearing a blue uniform with ‘Police’ written on it. The officers reportedly had a black car with them without any signs on it which the respondent was transported in to a building which he described as Kavala Police station. The respondent noted that the drive to the station took approximately 10 minutes.
After arriving at the police station, the respondent was reportedly body searched and then brought to a cell with two men inside, one from India and one from Bangladesh. He recalled seeing five officers in the station wearing blue uniforms with ‘Police’ written on them. The respondent reported that there was no translator present and they were not informed of the reason for their detention in a language they could understand. Additionally he reported that they had a toilet in the cell from which he and the two men drank water because they were not given any water or food during their detention at this site.
The respondent reported that neither he nor the men he was detained in the cell with asked the authorities about the asylum procedure, as they were reportedly not able to communicate with the officers. “We couldn’t communicate in the first place so I wanted [to apply for asylum] but there was no chance, there was nobody that spoke the same language as I did and also there was nobody who wanted to listen.”
We couldn’t communicate in the first place so I wanted [to apply for asylum] but there was no chance, there was nobody that spoke the same language as I did and also there was nobody who wanted to listen.
The respondent reported that they stayed in the station for approximately three hours after which they were reportedly put into a van. . During this process the respondent was reportedly told by the officers that he and the two men were going to a camp. He recalled that “they [the officers] were telling me we [are] going to [a] camp.”
The officers were telling me we are going to a camp.
The respondent reported that the van had no signs or writings on it and had “a cage in the back”. The respondent believed it was a Mercedes van. The respondent reported that he and the two men were sitting on metal benches in the back of the vehicle and that there was one man wearing civil clothing driving the van who spoke Greek. The drive reportedly took approximately 2-3 hours after which they arrived at a large building.
The respondent reportedly believed that this building was an “army base” which he believed because it had a surrounding wall and there were many people wearing “army uniforms” working there. The respondent described these uniforms as green camouflage uniforms with green balaclavas and sometimes black uniforms with black balaclavas. He further reported that the officers were speaking “mainly English and Greek” with each other. The respondent described the surroundings of the building as fields on one side of the building and “a big forest” on the other side.
Outside of the building, there were reportedly 80 people waiting when the respondent and the two men arrived. He recalled that they were the last people to join before two trucks arrived which reportedly took all the people to the river “in order to push us back.” The respondent reported that the people were from many different countries including India, Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. He recalled seeing “a big family that included three women” and people under age within the group. “Definitely there [were] minors getting pushed back.”
Definitely there were minors getting pushed back.
The respondent explained that one of the trucks that arrived at the building was white and relatively new. The other one was reportedly old. The respondent reported that he, the two men who arrived with him and all the 80 other people were told to “take our jackets and jewellery off”, to split up into two groups and to get into these two trucks. The respondent noted that it was very crowded inside the trucks, there were people on top of each other and the drive was “chaotic”.
They steal your belongings and they take your phone and your money.
The respondent reported that the drive took approximately 30 minutes until they stopped at the river. There, the respondent recalled that the group was handed over to eight people “from Syria and Afghanistan working with the police”. (This cooperation between Greek officers and Arabic-speaking people was reported by BVMN in previous reports.) The respondent explained that these people were wearing black clothes and balaclavas but he was reportedly able to identify their nationalities because “they spoke Arabic and Afghani languages.” He reported that these eight people were searching people and stealing their belongings. “They steal your belongings and they take your phone and your money.” The respondent reported witnessing this happen to people in front of him. He reportedly witnessed physical violence used by these eight people against the group consisting of himself, the two men who arrived with him and the 80 people from the army station. The respondent described the people from Syria and Afghanistan using batons to beat people and that the same people kicked and slapped members of the group being pushed back. “They have batons and they just sometimes kick somebody, slap somebody, just out of nowhere.”
They have batons and they just sometimes kick somebody, slap somebody, just out of nowhere.
The respondent reported that these eight people from Syria and Afghanistan had four dinghies in the water. These dinghies were reportedly made out of plastic, they were black or grey and approximately 3 metres long. Each dinghy was reportedly steered by two members of the group from Syria and Afghanistan using thick ropes and could carry 10-14 people at a time. The respondent noted that there were still people nearby who he believed to be “army people” because of their green camouflage uniforms but they were reportedly standing further away and were observing the procedure while the people from Syria and Afghanistan were carrying out the pushback.