“They had to drink water from the toilets in detention”

  • Date and time: August 14, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Greek-Turkish border, near Edirne
  • Coordinates: 41.1517222, 26.5137964
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 50 person(s), age: Unknown , from: Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: kicking, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: Greek police officers
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Mobile Info Team

Original Report

The respondent is a young mother of a six month old baby, of Syrian nationality. She was part of a group of approximately 40 persons that crossed the Evros border together with other families. After crossing into Greece, the group walked for days “by the mountains and the forests” to avoid being spotted, without food or water. Five days later they were intercepted by police officers. The respondent reports the group stopping for a rest, when she was woken up by a splash of water on her face and saw three police officers, wearing black clothes, carrying weapons and batons.

The group was loaded into a white van with no windows and driven for approximately one hour and a half. By the time they arrived at the detention place it was dark. The respondent could not describe the building or its surroundings. She states she was placed in a detention cell that accommodated around 47 people, her group and an addition of 7 people others. She describes the inside of the building as resembling a police station, small, and “a lot of police officers and a lot of toilets”. They were held at this location for 2 days and 2 nights. They were denied food and water despite asking, especially for their children. The respondent describes how they had to drink water from the toilets in detention.

She describes the police officers wearing black clothes with shirts bearing the word “POLICE” on them, and some of them having their faces covered “like with a scarf”. After 2 days and 2 nights, the detainees were loaded into a green army car, “completely closed”, fitting around 50 people inside, and driven for about one hour before reaching the river. Once they reached the river (August 14, 2020), they were taken out of the car but then they were loaded back in, when the authorities on the Greek side spotted activity on the Turkish side. The respondent states that the Greek police loaded everyone back in the car when they saw the Turkish border guards at the same location, on the other side of the river.

The group was driven to another location where they were ferried on the river to Turkey. The respondent recalls about 5 Greek police officers present, all of them had their faces covered and were wearing black clothing. The boat could fit about 13 people inside and was driven back and forth by a Syrian man, who “was working with the police” according to the respondent.

The respondent described violence against the group, mostly against the men in the group, batons hits and kicking. Their belongings were taken, their phones and their money. The police did not take the money in her possession, but her phone was taken as well as everyone else’s. While giving the testimony, she stated:

“The only thing that I wish [is] for the Greek people to be clear and fair with people because there are families and children [involved].”