“The officers would beat them even more and tell them to stop screaming ”

  • Date and time: August 24, 2021 05:30
  • Location: In the Aegean Sea, 3 kilometres from Samos Island
  • Coordinates: 37.709815, 27.094505
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 37 person(s), age: 1-45 years old , from: Palestine, Iraq, Somalia
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, insulting, sexual assault, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, Threatening with knife
  • Police involved: 7 officers - all men, wearing black balaclavas, dressed in dark uniforms bearing the EU flag; some spoke English, Greek and/or other language. They were on board of a medium-sized boat in gray and white colors, with no signs, just numbers.
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Anonymous

Original Report

The respondent is a 27-year-old man from Iraq. He has experienced three pushbacks with the most recent being on the 24th of August 2021. 

On Tuesday 24th of August, together with a group of 37 people from Iraq, Palestine, and Somalia, the respondent traveled on a small plastic boat from Kuşadası, Turkey, towards Samos Island, Greece. The majority of the people on the boat were women, five of whom were pregnant. The group also included seven minors and four small children, the youngest of whom was one year old. The oldest person on the boat was around 45 years old. 

The boat left around 3:00 am. After 2,5 hours in the boat, around 5:30 am and 3 kilometers from Samos Island, the group was apprehended by a bigger boat. It was a medium-sized boat in gray and white colors, with no signs, just numbers. They were apprehended by seven officers, all men, dressed in dark blue uniforms bearing the flag of the European Union – a blue flag with stars in it. All of them wore black balaclavas covering their heads. Some of the officers spoke English and some of them spoke Greek plus other languages that the respondent could not understand. 

The officers took the motor that was connected to the plastic boat and threw it into the water. They then attached a cable to their boat so they could tow them to the other boat. Following this, all 37 people were ordered to board the officer’s boat. The officers were talking to them in insulting and abusive ways, continuously using the Greek word ‘malaka’ towards them. “They insulted our mothers, our families and used no good words against us”.

No fingerprints or individual pictures were taken at any time. The only information collected was one picture of the 37 people. The respondent personally expressed his intention to apply for asylum in Greece, but was only met with insulting and screaming words by the officers. “Every time we tried to talk to them, they insulted us and screamed at us”.

Shortly after boarding the boat, the men were forcibly undressed and their money was taken away from them. Naked, one by one, they were searched by the officers while being verbally insulted and violently beaten. The officers were also harassing women and touching their bodies. They did not force the women to undress but ordered them to stand up and then [the officers] touched their bodies. The respondent explained that some of the women were screaming while their bodies were touched and that the officers would beat them and tell them to stop screaming. 

The respondent was subjected to violent treatment, both physically and mentally, by one of the officers. The officer started kicking and hitting his head, legs, stomach, and back. He was threatening him, holding one hand strongly around his neck and one knife in front of his face, asking who the driver of the boat was. The respondent replied that he did not know who the driver was, but the officer kept threatening him. Although he did not stab him with the knife, the respondent felt really frightened from the danger that was in front of him. 

The officers were using their hands and their legs to hit, beat and kick the people on the boat. Almost everyone, apart from the minors, was subject to physical violence – except for one minor boy who also was able to hide his phone between his legs.

The group of people were held on the boat for one hour. After this, they were given orange-colored life vests. The officers also inflated one orange and black life raft and threw it into the sea. Several of the people were again violently beaten before they were all forced into the life raft. From there, they were pushed back to the Turkish side.

Location of the apprehension in the Aegean Sea.
Picture sent by the respondent.

 

After a while in the water and reaching closer to Turkish land, one man decided to jump off the boat and began to swim. The respondent explained that he did not want to go back to Turkey – he wanted to go to Greece. The respondent still does not know what happened to his friend or where he is now. 

The transit group was floating on the liferaft for 1,5 hours before the Turkish Coast Guard came. Their boat was white and orange with the Turkish flag on it, and the officers wore red uniforms with the Turkish flag on it. The Turkish Coast Guard first took the women and children into their boat, then the men, and brought them to the Turkish land. 

The respondent explained that they were taken to the same city they first traveled from, Kuşadası. They were given food and water before they were taken to the police station. The respondent could not recall the exact name of the station, though he described it as a place where people are detained after being pushed back, called ‘yabanji’–meaning “foreign”. This was likely a detention center for foreigners/a migrant detention facility. Here, their fingerprints were collected. 

The people spent 17 hours in detention before they were released. 

The respondent is currently in Izmir, Turkey.