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I told him that I’m a Kurdish political asylum seeker. They pushed me to the ground.

Date & Time 2021-09-08
Location Soufli, Greece
Reported by Mobile Info Team
Coordinates 41.19035733, 26.32303526
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 29 - 29
Group size 30
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Algeria, Turkey (Kurdish)
Treatment at police station or other place of detention beating with police baton
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 3 +
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 1. 2 Greek officers, 1 greek police officer, Greek police pick-up truck, one military jeep, a large military truck, small boat, Turkish officers

The respondent is a 29-year-old Turkish man. On August 9, 2021, sometime between 6.10 and 6.30 am, he arrived in Greece, after crossing the Evros River. He reported that he was pushed back to Turkey that same day.

Once in Greece, the respondent walked for about 2 to 2.5 kilometers on unpaved paths and then changed his route to the main road. The respondent was stopped by two male officers, with what he reported was a small military-like car that looked like a jeep, near Kornofolia, on the east side of the E85 highway. The officers wore dark brown military t-shirts and had a Greek flag on their arms. They spoke the Greek language. 

The respondent recalls the officers yelling at him. One of them reportedly had his hands on his weapon – he had a firearm strapped to his side. The officers told the respondent to sit down. They repeatedly asked for his ID and told him not to touch or hold his phone. 

The respondent gave them his ID and other cards that he had with him. He put everything on the ground. The respondent said that the officers then took everything from him – his IDs, his money (about 200 euros), and destroyed his phone. The respondent reported that when he told one of the officers that he is a Kurdish political asylum seeker, he was pushed to the ground. 

‘I told him that I’m a Kurdish political asylum seeker. They pushed me to the ground.’

‘After they pushed me to the ground, I didn’t move’. 

He asked for asylum at this point. In return, they beat him twice with a baton that they held in their hand. 

One of the officers then made a call. After about 15 to 20 minutes, a man dressed in uniform arrived in a closed pick-up car. He was reportedly wearing a uniform with a Greek sign and a Greek ‘police’ sign on it. The respondent recalls that he heard the other officers laughing. 

The police officer did not speak to him. He asked one of the other officers whether the respondent had another phone with him or not. The respondent then said that he could show them his pockets and that he had no other phones with him. 

After that, the respondent was placed in the back of the closed pick-up car. 

‘They closed the door, and I could barely breathe’. 

They drove him for around 7 to 10 minutes to what the respondent described as a ‘police station’. 

Due to the location described by the respondent, tt is likely that he was brought to the Soufli Police and Border Guard Station

Upon arrival, the respondent recalls seeing a very large gate and more officers in the same uniform as the two officers who stopped him at the beginning. The respondent reported that they carried batons in their hands. More than 30 other people were at the police station – from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries. There were three women and one disabled man from Algeria. The respondent describes being held with the group.

At the police station, the respondent repeatedly said that he was seeking asylum.

They kept telling me to go and tried to scare me with a stick,’ the respondent recalled.

After being held at the police station for ten minutes, the respondent described seeing a large closed military-like truck approaching. All the people – more than 30 – were loaded into the truck. The truck took them to the border with Turkey in about 5 to 7 minutes. The group then walked for a minute to the Evros river. 

The group was divided into three smaller groups. With a small type of boat, they were taken, ten by ten, to the other side of the border. It took about 3 minutes to get to the other side. 

When crossing the river, the respondent reported that he could see the Turkish authorities. They were about 60 meters away. 

‘After about 1 minute, two minutes… they saw us right away.’ 

The Turkish authorities approached them and asked who they were. The respondent then said that he was from Syria, as he believed that he would be in danger if he told them that he is from Turkey. 

‘Everybody told them: ‘I am an Afghani’, ‘I am from Syria’.

The respondent refrained from speaking Turkish to protect himself. 

‘because if they knew that I am a Turkish citizen or if I speak Turkish, they will take me and place me in jail.’

The respondent explains that it took about two hours from the time that he was apprehended in Greece until he was pushed back to Turkey.

After being approached by the Turkish authorities, the respondent went to Istanbul.