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“It was really full, and we couldn’t breathe” 

Date & Time 2020-10-13
Location near to Serem, Turkey
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.327006, 26.509007
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 60
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved unknown
Violence used insulting, theft of personal belongings
Police involved Police in civilian clothing and army officers

The respondent, 29-year-old Moroccan man, was apprehended on October 12th, 2020, at 9pm, at the Thessaloniki bus station (Κ.Τ.Ε.Λ.). Four Greek policemen in blue police uniforms asked him for his papers, and as he responded that he didn’t have any, they proceeded to handcuff him with metal handcuffs and forced him into a small Greek police car with a police logo on it.


They drove for half an hour to a Greek police station close to the sea, most probably the Kalamaria police department (Taxiarchon 1, Kalamaria 551 32). This police station had three cells inside.  At the police station, the respondent was given food, water and access to toilets. When he arrived, Greek police officers checked the respondent’s clothes, bags and pockets. He was then put into a cell with 7 men from Afghanistan, all in their twenties.


The afghan men were asked to give their fingerprints and were taken to a camp. The respondent was never asked for his fingerprints. After spending the night in the station, at 11am the next day, the respondent was taken to a big blue bus.


The bus was described by the respondent as big and blue, with metal chairs inside and wire netting all over the windows. The bus was filled with approximately 20 men from Morocco, Algeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The majority of the men were from Afghanistan. Three officers in civilian clothing were with them on the bus.

They drove for three hours to a place close to the Evros river. According to the respondent, the place looked like an army station, with several people wearing green army uniforms, army trucks around and one big cell filled with undocumented people.

Five Greek army officers wearing army uniforms, green trousers, a green t-shirt, and army boots, helped the officers in civilian clothing to take the respondent and the undocumented people off the blue bus. The army officers weren’t wearing any face coverings. They insulted the people from the transit group in Greek and confiscated their belongings including money, watch, rings, belts etc. They did not return the items to the people.


The respondent and others were put in a cell for an hour. After this, the Greek army officers counted them and took them out of the cell. They then separated them into groups of ten people and put them into a big green army truck. There were about 60 people in the truck, including families with women, children and babies. The majority of these people were from Syria, Morocco, Afghanistan, Iraq and Algeria. All of them were standing as there were no seats. It was crowded with little space to breathe.


“It was really full, and we couldn’t breathe”


They were driven for 20 minutes until they reached the river, with three army officers in the truck and a big white car with about 10 other army officers, following the truck. All army officers were wearing a green army uniform.


They reached the river once it was dark, at 8:30pm on October 13th. They found one grey and blue dinghy.  They were divided into small groups of 6 to 10 people to cross the river. In the respondent’s dinghy, there were six people, including himself, a Syrian, three Moroccans and an Algerian. None of them were minors. The dinghies were driven by two people – one of the army officers who was in the white car behind the truck, and another man described by the respondent as middle eastern. The two men spoke to each other in English.


The respondent said that he saw six women in the last dinghies, and four of them had babies with them.


The place where they crossed the river was close to the Turkish town, Serem.


Once he reached the river, the respondent and the rest of the transit group were met by the Turkish army, who counted them and took them to an army camp, where they gave them food, water and released them.


The respondent was never asked to sign any papers during this journey, and never asked for asylum.