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Pushback from Lagadikia Camp

Date & Time 2020-09-16
Location Lagadikia, Greece
Reported by Mobile Info Team
Coordinates 40.6376256, 23.2428886
Pushback from Greece
Pushback to Turkey
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved yes
WLTI* involved yes
Men involved yes
Age 4 - 18
Group size 100
Countries of origin Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq
Treatment at police station or other place of detention no translator present
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 20
Violence used insulting, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 10 policemen - moment of arrest, 3 policemen in the bus, 7 policemen present at unknonw detention place

The respondent is a Kurdish-Iraqi national. He arrived in Greece on September 3rd, together with his family composed of his wife and three daughters, 4 years old, 14 years old, and 18 years old. They are currently back in Iraq, after being pushed back from Greece to Turkey, from where they were subsequently deported to Iraq.

The respondent arrived in Thessaloniki through the land border and tried to access the asylum procedure and went to a police station where he expressed his will to apply for asylum. He waited in the police station for about 4 hours before deciding to leave since the police officers were refusing to register his application. He states that his children were exhausted. For the following 4 days they stayed in a hotel in the city after which they left and went to Lagadikia camp, located 40 km far from Thessaloniki.

In the camp they were assisted by camp residents with food and a place to stay, while organizations provided them with other non food items as well as food. They were allowed to stay in a container with one other unregistered family, but since their asylum application was still not submitted the police was notified. On September 16th, police officers arrived in the camp, 10 uniformed officers in total according to the respondent and transferred them to a police station 20-25 minutes drive from the camp. They were told they will be registered and issued the necessary documentation. They were not fingerprinted, nor their information was registered, the respondent reports. Additionally, he states that the policemen purchased food for the people detained from the cash belonging to them. The respondent states that he expressed his wish to apply for asylum with the help of his oldest daughter who spoke English to the officers.

They were detained for 3 or 4 hours when they were picked up from the police station by a group of men in civilian clothing that the respondent describes as “the mafia”. He reports that after having an argument with the police officers at the station, the men came and took them in front of the other police officers. The respondent and his family together with other persons who were arrested and detained in the police station, were placed in a dark-blue bus, without inscription on the side, and grated windows. He states there were about 5 families and 5 single men in the bus, and 3 men that he does not identify as police officers. The men spoke Greek.

They were like mafia. They came there [at the police station] and take us. They look like mafia.

They were driven for about 6 hours and placed in “an abandoned place”. They took away their belongings, their mobile phones and all the money they had in their possession. He reports there were about 7 “commandos”, wearing different uniforms, military clothing of dark green color, as well as blue uniforms; some wearing lights on their heads, some wearing weapons. At this “abandoned place” there were about 100 people of different nationalities, the respondent believes that they could have been Afghan, Pakistan, Syrian nationals and ethnic Kurds. All the people were loaded into two vehicles by 4 of the officers. The vehicles are described as closed military buses big enough to fit 50 people inside. They were transported to the river bank.

At the river bank, they were transported in groups across the river. One of the “commandos”, as the respondent called them, who wore green clothes and ferried them in the boat spoke Greek and Turkish, as well as a Kurdish dialect. At this stage, all of the officers involved wore balaclavas that covered their faces.

Once they were on the Turkish side of the river, the respondent and his family walked for one hour before encountering people who assisted them. The people said to the family:

Why you went to Greece? There is no humanity [in Greece]!

The family eventually returned to Istanbul. A few days later, they were arrested by the Turkish gendarmes and returned to Iraq. They were driven in a bus and released at the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The story has also been published in EFSYN, a Greek online newspaper available here