“The officer put a bottle of water in front of the respondent and told him: “if you touch this bottle, I will leave you a souvenir so you will never forget.””

  • Date and time: February 18, 2021 02:00
  • Location: Pythion/Çakmakköy
  • Coordinates: 41.382238806294, 26.633924363135
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 130 person(s), age: 5-50 , from: Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), water immersion, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving, psychological torture
  • Police involved: 6 “masked men” with guns and a white van; 8 officers in Greek police uniform; 2 officers with white hair in Greek police uniform, 8 in green trousers and civilian jackets; one big green military truck; 5 officers in green camouflage uniforms
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent is 23 years old and from Morocco. After crossing the land border with Turkey and walking through Greece for 12 days, he was apprehended outside of Drama while walking on a road leading into the city in a group of seven. It was 3 or 4pm when six officers stopped in an unmarked white van. The officers were wearing black clothes and balaclavas. They were carrying guns but had no insignia or anything else on their uniforms that would identify them as police officers.

The respondent remarks “and of course they beat us”. He specified that the officers were beating the group with their hands and in addition kicked them. They then proceeded to order them to undress down to their boxers and frisked them. The officers took all phones and money from the respondent and his companions. 

Once they were searched and frisked, the group was allowed to get dressed again and was ordered to get into the van. After a drive of about one hour, they arrived at a police station inside the city of Komotini. It was an official police station, and many officers in Greek police uniforms were present – the respondent thinks it must have been at least 8, probably more.

After climbing some stairs, they entered. Inside, the respondent and the others were again ordered to undress, this time including their boxers. Afterward, they only had their shirts and boxers returned. 

At the police station, there were also another 8 persons from Iraq and Syria who were being frisked. Again they were being beaten by the officers.  The respondent, his group, and the eight people were then taken into a cell which was about 4 by 2 meters. They did not have access to a toilet and they did not get any water or food. Sometimes the police brought more people so that at the end of the day, a total of 20 people were gathered in that cell. They were all male, between 25 and 30 years old, and from Morocco, Syria, and Iraq.

The respondent was very thirsty and therefore asked one of the officers for water. The officer put a bottle of water in front of the respondent and told him: “if you touch this bottle, I will leave you a souvenir so you will never forget.”

Sometime at night, the group of 20 was ordered to leave the cell and taken into a white van by two officers who were wearing civilian clothes, balaclavas, and carried batons. One of the two spoke Arabic. After a drive of around two hours, they arrived at another detention site. The respondent described it as “a big one, full of army people”. It was not an official police station, but an old building similar to a garage surrounded by a fence. 

Inside, around 70 or 80 people had been detained already when the respondent and his group arrived. There were Syrians, Iraqis, Moroccans, Algerians and Libyans.

Many police officers were present there. The respondent specifically recalls “many old police officers with white hair”, two of which were wearing the official blue Greek police uniform while the others were wearing green trousers and different colored jackets. He is not sure about the total number but is certain it must have been at least 10 officers.

After a couple of hours, the group of now 90-100 people was ordered to leave the building and enter a green, “big military truck”.  They were surprised to find another 40 people inside it already, including women and children. The truck was crammed, people had to stand squeezed to each other and could hardly breathe.

The drive lasted for around 2 hours and was very reckless.

Five officers were waiting there. They were wearing green camouflage uniforms. The group of now 130-140 people was ordered to form lines. They were subsequently taken into a small boat, seven people at a time. It was very unstable. Halfway across the river, they all were ordered to jump. 

After walking for a while, the respondent remembers entering the village of Çakmakköy and walking from there to Edirne. He believes the pushback occurred around 2 or 3 am.