Skip to content
Support our work

The officer put a bottle of water in front of the respondent and told him: “if you touch this bottle, I will leave you a souvenir so you will never forget.”

Date & Time 2021-02-18
Location Pythion/Çakmakköy
Reported by josoor
Coordinates 41.38223881, 26.63392436
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 5 - 50
Group size 130
Countries of origin Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 29
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, water immersion, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving, psychological torture
Police involved 6 “masked men” with guns, no insignias and a white van; 8 men in Greek police uniform; 2 men with white hair in Greek police uniform, 8 in green trousers and civilian jackets; one big green military truck; 5 men in green camouflage uniforms

The respondent is 23 years old and from Morocco. After crossing the land border with Turkey and walking through Greece for 12 days, he was apprehended outside of Drama while walking on a road leading into the city in a group of seven. It was 3 or 4pm when six men in uniforms resembling police stopped in an unmarked white van. The men in uniform were described as wearing black clothes and balaclavas. They were reportedly carrying guns but had no insignia or anything else on their uniforms that would identify them.

The respondent remarks “and of course they beat us”. He specified that the men in uniforms were beating the group with their hands, as well as kicking them. They then proceeded to order the group to undress down to their boxers and frisked them. He described that the men in uniform took all phones and money from him and his companions. 

Once they were searched and frisked, the group was allowed to get dressed again and was ordered to get into the van. The respondent recalls that, after a drive of about one hour, they arrived at a police station inside the city of Komotini. It was an official police station, and many men in Greek police uniforms were present – the respondent thinks it must have been at least 8, “probably more”.

After climbing some stairs, they entered. Inside, the respondent and the others were reportedly ordered to undress again, this time including their boxers. Afterwards, they only had their shirts and boxers returned. The respondent reported that they were subject to physical violence again at the police station.

When they arrived, there were another 8 people from Iraq and Syria who were being frisked at the time. The respondent, his group, and those eight people were then taken into a cell which was about 4 by 2 meters. They did not have access to a toilet and they did not get any water or food, according to the respondent. Sometimes the police brought more people so that at the end of the day, a total of 20 people were gathered in that cell. They were all male, between 25 and 30 years old, and from Morocco, Syria, and Iraq.

The respondent was very thirsty and therefore asked one of the men in uniform for water. The man in uniform put a bottle of water in front of the respondent and told him: “if you touch this bottle, I will leave you a souvenir so you will never forget.”

Sometime at night, the group of 20 was ordered to leave the cell and taken into a white van by two men who were described as wearing civilian clothes, balaclavas, and carrying batons. One of them spoke Arabic. After a drive of around two hours, they arrived at another detention site. The respondent described it as “a big one, full of army people”. According to him, it was not an official police station, but an old building similar to a garage surrounded by a fence. 

Inside, around 70 or 80 people had been detained already when the respondent and his group arrived. There were people from Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.

Many men in uniform were present there. The respondent specifically recalls “many old police officers with white hair”, two of which were wearing the official blue Greek police uniform while the others were wearing green trousers and different colored jackets. He is not sure about the total number but is certain it must have been at least 10 men in uniform.

After a couple of hours, the group of now 90-100 people was reportedly ordered to leave the building and enter a green, “big military truck”.  They were surprised to find another 40 people inside it already, including women and children. The truck was crammed, the respondent described that people had to stand squeezed to each other and could hardly breathe.

The drive lasted for around 2 hours and was very reckless, according to the respondent.

Five men in uniform were waiting there. They were wearing green camouflage uniforms. The group of now 130-140 people was ordered to form lines. They were subsequently taken into a small boat, seven people at a time. The respondent recalls it was very unstable. Halfway across the river, they were reportedly ordered to jump. 

After walking for a while, the respondent remembers entering the village of Çakmakköy and walking from there to Edirne. He believes the pushback occurred around 2 or 3 am.