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“They told us we don’t have food for you”

Date & Time 2020-12-09
Location Greek/Turkish border, near Uzunkopru
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.34183, 26.622821
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age unknown
Group size 25
Countries of origin Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 3+
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), theft of personal belongings
Police involved police in civilian clothes, Greek police in black uniforms, Greek military, small white Renault van, riot police bus, Greek military vans

The respondent, a 24-year-old man from Morocco, and his friend, another Moroccan man, were apprehended at the Diavata camp, on September 11th 2020, after a fight broke between his friend and an Iraqi man in the camp.

The police, dressed in civilian clothing, came to the camp following the fight and apprehended the Moroccan man involved in the fight, and his friend, the respondent, who was not involved in the fight.

The respondent and his friend were handcuffed with regular metal handcuffs and driven in a civilian car to a local police station in Thessaloniki, 30 minutes away from the Diavata camp. It was the first time the respondent heard about the fight. They were detained in a cell for 40 minutes and then taken to another police station with the same civilian car and by the same civilian officers about 40 minutes away.

The second police station didn’t have a police signboard. There, the policemen in civilian clothing took the respondent and his friend’s phones, fingerprints, pictures and money away – 200 Euros. The respondent and his friend were detained in a cell with 12 other people for 24 hours. During that time, they had access to toilets and showers. The respondent signed a document in greek that he did not understand. He didn’t ask for an interpreter. The police officers gave them six euros per day, and someone came in the evening to sell sandwiches.

The respondent claims he saw a woman and her child in an isolated cell.

At the end of their stay in this cell, the police gave them back their clothes and backpacks but not their money.

The respondent, his friend, and about 15 people (all adult men) were then driven for an hour in a windowless small white Renault van to another place near Kavala, in the middle of a forest. They were then put on a big blue bus, in which another four people joined and were driven to a place that looked like an army station according to the respondent, near the Turkish border, three and a half hours away from Kavala. The respondent explained that the place was cold and dirty. He assumed it was an army station because the officers were in black military uniforms and the vans around looked like military vans.

At the alleged army station, men wearing black uniforms took the respondent’s shoes, clothes and backpack and threw them away. He was never given his belongings back. His request for food was denied. “They told us we don’t have food for you”, the respondent said.

He claims there were several families with women and children in the army station. He stayed in there for four hours, until he was driven to a place close to the Turkish border (41.341830, 26.622821). The van they drove in was a special van to drive on uneven roads like in forests. According to the respondent, it looked like an army van. He claims that women and children were in the army van with him. They were accompanied by three officers, wearing black uniforms and balaclavas.  The respondent assumed these men were police officers based on their black uniform.

In groups of 25 people, the three policemen walked them from the van to the river. The respondent and his group, which included women and children and people from Algeria, Syria, Morocco and Pakistan, were put into black and white dinghies allegedly driven by two Afghans, to cross the river to Turkey.

While crossing the river, the respondent claims he was beaten by the officers, with sticks and hands. The officers did not go in the dinghies with them.

As he arrived at the Turkish border, the respondent walked for two hours, to the village of Uzunkopru, where he slept in a squat before getting a train to Istanbul.