The respondent shared his and his family’s account of the way they were pushed back from Greece to Turkey. He reports that he arrived in Thessaloniki on the 28th of August, 2020 together with his brother and 60-year-mother (all from Egypt). Following the advice of other asylum seekers in the city, they went to a police station to apply for asylum and receive documentation attesting to their status as asylum seekers. They were referred to a second police station, where he was told he would be able to do so. At the second police station, they expressed their will to apply for asylum. The police officers informed them that they will be detained and released 24 hours later when issued the necessary documents.
The police officers proceeded to take their belongings, phones, clothes, money, and documentation from their country of origin that would support their asylum claim, and place them in a holding cell. The respondent states that one police officer took photos with his mobile phone, but that their fingerprints were not taken and they were not asked to sign any document.
The respondent describes that that night (28th of August), they were taken out of the cell and placed in a car. They were told they will be transferred to a different location “to sign for paper“. The car drove for approximately one hour and then they were transferred to another car that drove them for three hours, “in the woods“, somewhere close to the border with Turkey. They were told to get out of the car and the police officers wearing black uniforms accompanied them for the walk until the river bank of the Meric. There, other officers wearing black clothes and balaclavas were pumping an inflatable boat with air. The respondent and family were placed in the boat with two officers and crossed the river.
This account records the 3rd pushback the respondent and his family experienced from Greece. The first pushback took place from a Greek village close to the border with Turkey. The second pushback took place from Komotini in the Greek interior.