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"The boat doesn't stop when people fall in the water"

Date & Time 2022-03-10
Location Near Soufli at the Meric river
Reported by Collective Aid
Coordinates 41.1943451, 26.2992566
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 20 - 31
Group size 4
Countries of origin Afghanistan
Treatment at police station or other place of detention detention, no translator present, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved First two city police officers in blue uniforms and police badges. In the camp there were a lot of police officers. Then by the border (river) there were 5 or 7 police officers in all black uniforms and wearing balaclavas and black hats.
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, theft of personal belongings, forced to cross a river in an overcrowded dinghy, handcuffed, denial of food
Police involved Greek police officers in all black uniforms and balaclavas and black hats. It was too dark to identify whether they had badges.

After 18 days of walking through Turkey the group of four young men arrived in Greece. As they were waiting at the bus station in Lavara (Greece). At around 14:40 two Greek police officers in blue uniforms approached them and asked for their documents. When they could not produce these they were handcuffed, brought to a camp and deprived of their personal belongings such as their phones and bags, leaving them only with their shoes and clothes. The conditions in the camp were terrible and regularly people weren’t given any food for days.

The group stayed in the camp for two days and on the 3rd of October 2022 at midnight they were taken to the Meric river border area. The police officers here were dressed in all black uniforms and wore balaclavas to cover their faces. They were made to cross the Meric river in a small plastic dinghy which carried 8-9 people in total. The Greek police officers were yelling at people in Greek and English and those fortunate enough to speak English followed their instructions. However, those who couldn’t understand were met not just with insults but were beaten with batons, kicked and slapped by the police. The interviewee saw women and men being beaten by the police. The little boat was overcrowded and regularly people fell in the water which has a strong current, but the boat is made to keep going. The Turkish police is “too afraid” to go to into the Meric and they leave people in the river.

Under the instruction of the Greek police, who do not cross the river themselves, a person without legal status (formerly on the move) is made to escort other people on the move across the river in the boat. These people work for the Greek police for two months generally and then receive documentation from the Greek police which allows them to leave Greece legally. The group was thrown out of the dinghy before it had fully reached the Turkish shore, leaving them to wade through the water. When the group reached the Turkish side of the Meric riverbed, they were questioned by the police there. They asked where they are from and what they were doing in Greece. After the police stopped asking them questions, the group walked for 10 minutes to a place where many taxis regularly wait. The taxis are here every night, as there are always people being pushed back from Greece.