The respondent, an 18-year-old from Afghanistan, was pushed back from Greece to Turkey by the Evros/Meric river on the 31st of August 2022. The respondent was part of a transit group of about 20-30 people, including his sister and her husband, mostly consisting of single men from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Syria.
At about four in the afternoon near road 65 on the 15th of September, the transit group crossed into Greece. The respondent and his relatives were reportedly the only family present. Once they crossed, the group separated and the respondent was left alone with his sister, her husband and their child.
At approximately two o’clock the following morning, while the respondent and his family were resting in a forest, they were reportedly apprehended by three men in black uniforms hiding in the trees. When asked to further describe the uniforms, the respondent stated that the men had flags resembling the Greek flag on their uniforms and that they had a “police” car with them. The uniformed men told the group to stop and not to move, explained the respondent, to which he replied: “don’t deport me, we are family, we have a lot of problems”.
About 10 minutes later, a blue and white car with “police” written on it reportedly arrived at the scene with two more uniformed men in green camouflage clothes. The respondent recalled these two men also having a flag similar to the Greek flag on their uniform. All authority figures present were speaking Greek, described the respondent.
He then stated that the transit group was searched by the uniformed men and had their phones and their backpacks confiscated before being put in the back of one of the vehicles; because they were in the back of the car without any windows, the transit group could not see outside so the respondent was unable to describe his surroundings for the duration of the drive. The “small” two-seater car was reportedly driven fast by two uniformed men for about 30 minutes, described the respondent, and the road was both bumpy and smooth at times.
At about 2:30 a.m., the car stopped and the respondent and his family was unloaded from the vehicle at a building described as a “police station”,“Look like toilet. So bad [inside]”. The transit group was subsequently brought inside and searched again (by men in civilian clothing) and also had some of their clothes taken. The woman was also searched by uniformed men, but none of her clothes was taken, recounted the respondent. Reportedly, there were about six officers present at the detention site wearing either uniforms or civilian clothes.
According to the respondent, the group was then brought to a room with two sets of bunk beds and a toilet, and they were held there for about eight hours. The room was already filled with 25 other people mostly from Bangladesh, Iran and Afghanistan between the ages of 25 and 30. The respondent’s sister was the only woman present, and his nephew was the only child. At one point, the respondent recounted, he asked the uniformed men for some water for the child but he was denied.
According to the respondent, in the morning at about 10:30 a.m. everyone detained in the room was loaded into a van and transported to the border. It was very tight inside the van and no one could see outside as there was only one small window above eye level. They drove at a fast speed for approximately 30 minutes, described the respondent, and when they arrived at the border, they were near Ipsala. The transit group were then reportedly forced to walk down to the river (families on one side and single individuals on the other) where there were about five or six men in plain black uniforms with batons waiting for them. Another two vans carrying about 40 more people also arrived at the scene, recalled the respondent. They had not been in the room with the respondent at the detention site. He also added that one other woman was present in the group that arrived after theirs. When asked to describe his surroundings, the respondent said he recalled many trees around and a small little stream nearby the river on the Greek side.
The respondent recalled being searched for money at river and threatened by a man from Bangladesh and a man from Pakistan along the river banks, while the uniformed men did not intervene:
“They said if you tell me your money i don’t push you. If you don’t have any money or phone i push you. All of people take his or her money and gave them.”
He further recounted how nobody was allowed to speak, and if anyone spoke, they would be pushed by the men in black uniforms. He was also reportedly searched for money at the river.
According to the respondent, there was three rubber boats without engines at the river, and each one was loaded with about 15 people and driven by a Pakistani man and a Bangladeshi man paddling to the Turkish side of the river. The respondent and his group had to wait about five minutes before being forced into the boat. The crossing itself took about five minutes, he recalled.
After being pushed back from Greece to Turkey, they got out of the boat and spotted a “camera”, likely to be a Turkish drone, flying above them. No police were present. The respondent then described how they left the river and walked through some farm lands.
When asked if there was anything else he wanted to add, the respondent said:
“now I fear police. Now I have lost my sister. My mom call me where is your sister? I can’t say what can I do?”