On the 19th of August, 2020, a group of 34 adults, of which eight or nine were women, two were infants, and around six were children left the Turkish coast in a rubber dinghy at 04:00. When they were in Greek waters, around 1km off the northern coast of Lesvos, a grey Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) boat approached.
On the deck of that ship were two officers wearing HCG uniforms. Their faces were visible because they were not in masks. The HCG approached the dinghy, forced it to stop, and told the people to hand over the fuel which they did. Then that ship left again. The respondent describes the desperation they felt at that moment:
“We were screaming is this Europe? Where is Europe? Where is the humanity?”
About 20 or 30 minutes later, another ship came. It was grey and white and had an EU flag on it. Onboard that ship were three men in grey shirts and shorts. One was holding binoculars that had the EU flag on them. This ship drove left and right, creating waves to push the dinghy back. The Turkish Coast Guard (TCG) was present on the other side, filming it all and creating waves with a similar motion to push the boat the other way.
Around 07:00, the boat with the EU flag approached the dinghy again and told the people to come aboard. There they took their phones, bags, food, money and told them not to speak. The officials onboard then made a radio/phonecall.
Soon after, the respondent saw a small boat approaching very fast. It was dark grey and had a German flag on it. The respondent remembers two 300ps Yamaha engines and one chair for the driver. On it were three men with black clothes and balaclavas who were speaking German to each other.
Two of them went aboard the larger vessel with the EU flag and proceeded to prepare two orange life rafts. They made the women and children get onto them first, then all the others. One of the German-speaking men pushed the respondent into the life raft forcefully.
When the whole group was on the life rafts, the German speaking men threw all their bags and possesions overboard from the big ship, got onto their small boat, and left. The larger vessel with the EU flag then left as well. Then 20 or 30 min later, a TCG vessel came and took them back to Karaburun in Turkey. Referring to the passage of events, the respondent shared:
“I hope to go to safety one day. I miss my child so much.”