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One of us sank in the river. He died. We couldn’t find him later.

Date & Time 2021-03-01
Location Dilofos/Kapikule
Reported by josoor
Coordinates 41.69497647, 26.37634025
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station unknown
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 16 - 30
Group size 40
Countries of origin Palestine, Syria, Morocco
Treatment at police station or other place of detention denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 15
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 4 officers wearing green uniforms and black berets, 8 officers wearing green uniforms and balaclavas, three wearing civilian clothes.

The respondent recounts an incident where he was pushed back from Greece to Turkey. He was apprehended by what he described as 4 Greek officers along a highway in Greece after making the crossing from Turkey to Greece and spending a night in Greece. The 4 officers were wearing green uniforms with black berets, reported as being consistent with military uniform.

The respondent reported that, when the officers found him, they hit him so hard with batons that they broke his leg. They then took him to a detention centre, where the respondent explained “they humiliated us. There no bed to sleep in or something that we can stay on. we only sit on the floor on the cold”. The respondent reported that he was in the detention centre with 40 to 50 other people, Syrian, Palestinian, and Moroccan, aged between an estimated 16 to 30 years of age. At the place they were detained they had no access to a toilet and the cell “was so dirty and we couldn’t stand the smell”. He and the 40-50 other people were also denied food and water for the whole 2 days they were detained, according to the respondent.

Among the 40-50 people detailed in the centre, there were also women. “They [the officers] maltreat them”, explained the respondent, “there been a pregnant woman, they hit her and another woman. They broke her arm”.

The respondent reported that, after 2 days of detention, the officers brought a bus to collect them. It was described as big and dark blue, with metal bars in front of the windows. 60-70 people in total, from the same detention centre and other detention centres, were loaded into the bus. “We couldn’t breathe” explained the respondent when he recounted his experience in the back of the bus. The officers that ordered them to get into the bus were also wearing what was referred to as military uniforms, with some wearing civilian clothes.

The drive took approximately 20 minutes until they arrived at the Evros/Meriç river. There was no boat to take people across the river. “They forced us and threatened us with guns to cross the river,” reported the respondent. They crossed the first part of the river to find a little island in the middle of Evros, and then they swam and made it to the other part of the river that joined the Turkish side. Before they crossed the river, the respondent reports that the officers checked them all and took everything from them. The respondent explained sadly that “one of us sank in the river. He died. We couldn’t find him later”. The suspected death was arguably the result of the officers forcing them to cross.

The location of the pushback was close to Kapikule.