“I told him that I’m a Kurdish political asylum seeker. They pushed me to the ground.”

  • Date and time: August 9, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Soufli, Greece
  • Coordinates: 41.190357331549, 26.323035256288
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 30 person(s), age: 29 , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Algeria, Turkey (Kurdish)
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 1. 2 Greek military officers, 1 greek police officer, Greek police pick-up truck, one military jeep, a large military truck, small boat, Turkish military officers
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: beating with police baton
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Mobile Info Team

Original Report

The respondent is a 29-year-old Turkish man. On August 9, 2021, between 6.10 and 6.30 am, he arrived in Greece, after crossing the Evros River. He was pushed back to Turkey that same day.

Once in Greece, the respondent walked for about 2 to 2.5 kilometers on unpaved paths and then changed his route to the main road. The respondent was stopped by two male military officers, with a small military car that looked like a jeep, near Kornofolia, on the east side of the E85 highway. The military officers wore dark brown military t-shirts and had a Greek flag on their arms. They spoke the Greek language. 

The respondent recalls the military officers yelling at him. One of the military officers had his hands on his weapon – a small type of gun strapped to his side. The military officers told the respondent to sit down. They repeatedly asked for his ID and told him not to touch or hold his phone. 

The respondent gave the military officers his ID and other cards that he had with him. He put everything on the ground. The military officers then took everything from him – his IDs, his money (about 200 euros), and destroyed his phone. When he told one of the officers that he is a Kurdish political asylum seeker, he was pushed to the ground. 

‘I told him that I’m a Kurdish political asylum seeker. They pushed me to the ground.’

‘After they pushed me to the ground, I didn’t move’. 

He asked for asylum at this point. In return, they beat him twice with a baton that they held in their hand. 

One of the military officers then made a call. After about 15 to 20 minutes, a man dressed in police uniform arrived in a closed pick-up car. He was wearing a police uniform with a Greek sign and a Greek police sign on it. The respondent recalls that he heard the military officers and the police officer laughing. 

The police officer did not speak to him. He asked one of the military officers whether the respondent had another phone with him or not. The respondent then said that he could show them his pockets and that he had no other phones with him. 

After that, the respondent was placed in the back of the closed pick-up car. 

‘They closed the door, and I could barely breathe’. 

They drove him for around 7 to 10 minutes to what the respondent described as a ‘police station’. 

It is highly likely that the respondent was brought to the Soufli Police and Border Guard Station

Upon arrival, the respondent recalls seeing a very large gate and more officers in the same uniform as the two military officers who stopped him. They carried batons in their hands. More than 30 other people were held at the police station – from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries. There were three women and one disabled man from Algeria. The respondent describes being held with the group.

At the police station, the respondent repeatedly said that he was seeking asylum.

They kept telling me to go and tried to scare me with a stick,’ the respondent recalled.

After being held at the police station for ten minutes, the respondent described seeing a large closed military truck approaching. All the people – more than 30 – were loaded into the truck. The truck took them to the border with Turkey in about 5 to 7 minutes. The group then walked for a minute to the Evros river. 

The group was divided into three smaller groups. With a small type of boat, they were taken, ten by ten, to the other side of the border. It took about 3 minutes to get to the other side. 

When crossing the river, the respondent could see the Turkish authorities. They were about 60 meters away. 

‘After about 1 minute, two minutes… they saw us right away.’ 

The Turkish military approached them and asked who they were. The respondent then said that he was from Syria, as he knew that he would be in danger if he told them that he is from Turkey. 

‘Everybody told them: ‘I am an Afghani’, ‘I am from Syria’.

The respondent refrained from speaking Turkish to protect himself. 

‘because if they knew that I am a Turkish citizen or if I speak Turkish, they will take me and place me in jail.’

The respondent explains that it took about two hours from the time that he was apprehended in Greece until he was pushed back to Turkey.

After being approached by the Turkish authorities, the respondent went to Istanbul.