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[they told us] we don’t care...die... we want you to die

Date & Time 2020-05-06
Location Aegean Sea, Lesvos-Turkey
Reported by josoor
Coordinates 39.42442846, 26.3636775
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 2 - 47
Group size 21
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Iran
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, engine destroyed or removed, creation of waves, holes cut into the dinghy
Police involved unknown number of Greek Coastguard (HCG), five Greek male officers in masks, grey shirts and camouflage pants; unknown number of Turkish Coastguard (TCG)

At 02:30 on 5th June 2020, the transit group left their location in Turkey, walked to the shore and boarded a boat at approximately 05:00.

After 20 minutes (still in Turkish waters) when the transit group was 500 meters away from Greek waters, they were approached by one large and one small Greek Coastguard (HCG) ship. The HCG created waves in an attempt to push the transit group from Greek territory into Turkish waters. The small boat approached the transit group’s dinghy. There were five men on board wearing black masks, grey shirts and camouflage pants. The respondent alleged one was driving; one kept an eye out for the Turkish Coastguard (TCG); and two had long sticks. They used the sticks to beat and threaten everyone in order to prevent the transit group from stopping the third man, who had a knife and used it to cut a hole in their dinghy and fuel hose. When the TCG approached, the HCG left. The respondent alleged their dinghy was slowly sinking and that the transit group used their shoes and water bottles to scoop the water out. 

A few hours later when the light was better, the respondent went live on Facebook and posted three or four videos of their situation. Some group members jumped into the water and helped to push the boat towards Greek waters. The respondent alleged that the HCG was observing the situation with one large ship and several smaller boats, and drove between their dinghy and the TCG to prevent the TCG from taking footage. 

After this, the TCG left and the small boat with the same five men from before came back; one got into the transit groups’ dinghy and told the respondent to give him his phone. The man attacked the respondent with a stick and searched his pockets, but the respondent had given the phone to someone else on the boat to hide it. The respondent alleged the man beat him so badly that he was about to jump into the water; in response the man said “don’t do it” and stopped the attack. The officers then dragged the transit groups’ dinghy back into Turkish waters. The group pleaded with them to let them go, said that they have kids and they will die. One of the officers replied by saying,

“We don’t care…die…we want you to die”

Once back in Turkish waters, the attackers let go of the dinghy; it was sinking and there were strong waves made from both the HCG ship and the weather. At approximately 10:00 on 15th June 2020, the TCG took the transit group onto their ship after a Turkish-speaking member of the group begged them to. On board, the TCG gave the transit group masks and water and left the dinghy abandoned at sea.

Back on land, Turkish police took the transit group to a camp in Ayvacik and gave them some water. The camp manager told them that they would have to pay money if they wanted to leave the camp and that they could only leave to go to Bursa. The respondent alleged that usually the bus ticket for that trip would be 70TL, however the authorities wanted 200TL per person; they advised that if the transit group did not pay, they would start deportation procedures and threatened,

“as soon as there are planes again, you will be on them”

The respondent and the transit group had money sent to them and gave it to the camp manager and police to pay for their journey to Bursa. Authorities then took them to the bus stop in Ayvacik and put them on a bus to Bursa; they paid 3500 Lira in total.