The respondent is a 21-year-old Iranian woman. Her mother, brother and sister have been living in Greece since 2018 with secure residency status. This was the respondent’s fourth attempt to enter Greece. She travelled in a group of 21 people, composed of five Iranians, the rest Arabic-speakers. It included four adult women, two of whom were estimated to be 60 years old, two female minors, two male minors and four babies.
The group entered Greece crossing the Evros river by foot at a shallow spot. From there they walked along a road further into the Greek interior. After two hours a border police off-road vehicle approached. The group tried to hide behind trees at the side of the road, but after a short time the officers found them. While the search unfolded, a white van arrived into which the group were placed. In total, there were three male and one female officers at the scene, all wore military clothes and balaclavas. After a drive of 5-10 minutes they arrived at the border police department in Tychero at 2:30 am on 12th November.
Upon their arrival, all personal belongings – including food, bags and mobile phones – were confiscated. The respondent’s shoelaces were removed, others had their shoes seized. They were locked into a large room where they found 30 more people, including women with babies, according to the respondent “there was a breastfeeding.”
Several hours passed and more people were brought into the locked room. This made a total of 60-70 detainees. They received neither water nor food. One minor was slapped by a police officer because he asked for water, however he kept begging and eventually was given a small bottle. There were toilets that the respondent described as having “no water” and “so dirty.”
During the respondents detention, e point, a woman with an UNHCR-jacket entered the room, asking for an Arabic-English translator. Apart from that the door remained locked all day long.
All of the inmates, numbering more than 60, were then loaded into a truck. The respondent described: “it’s like a kind of truck but normally the people use this you know for delivery for the food.” Approximately between 10 and 11 p.m. on 12th November they arrived at the Evros river after a 30-minutes-drive. There were three Greek officers in that truck wearing balaclavas and dark green military clothes. Another three, dressed completely black, also Greek, waited for them at the river. Here, they found two dinghies , each crossing the river along a rope stretched from one bank to the other. The officers divided the people into four groups. The respondent’s group was one of the first two groups to cross. The dinghy was driven by one of the officers with another officer sitting in the back controlling the group.
Once on the Turkish side, the respondent and her group encountered Turkish military, who asked them to explain why they were in the border area. They told them about the pushback, whereupon the Turkish soldiers used torches to search for the dinghies. They discovered them on the Greek side and fired at the boats causing them to sink.There were no people on the boats, as the Greek officers were just about to bring the rest of the group.
The whereabouts of the approximately 30 people, who remained on the Greek side, are unknown.
The Turkish soldiers brought the respondent and her group to a nearby military station where they received food and water. From there they were transferred by bus back to Istanbul.
The location of the pushback had to be estimated from the driving time and the location of the previously mentioned border police department. The respondent did not ask for asylum.