“We all want to apply for asylum, but they don’t let you talk. If you talk, you get beaten.”

  • Date and time: February 27, 2021 20:00
  • Location: Gemisti/Ipsala
  • Coordinates: 40.946579587721, 26.354096647266
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 120 person(s), age: 12-50 , from: Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Morocco, India
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, water immersion, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 2 in blue uniform, 1 in civilian clothes with balaclava, an unmarked white van; 8 in blue uniform, 2 men in black clothes and balaclavas, 1 old van; 11 officers in green camo uniform, 2 officers in the boat
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent is a young man from Morocco. Together with five other men, all Moroccan and aged 21-38, he had crossed the border from Turkey to Greece and walked through Greece for two weeks. On the evening of the 15th day, the group was apprehended outside of Drama by two officers, described by the respondent as wearing blue Greek police uniforms. The officers ordered the respondent and his companions to get into a white van which reportedly did not have any indications of a police vehicle. It was driven by a third man in civilian clothes who was wearing a balaclava.

During the apprehension, the officers would have allegedly beaten and kicked all transit group members and taken their money, phones and all other belongings from them. The respondent claimed that the van then drove for around two hours and arrived at a police station where at least eight officers in blue Greek police uniforms were present. 

The respondent recalls that, upon entering the police station, him and the others were ordered to undress. Completely naked, their bodies were searched. Then, the officers handed them back their t-shirts and pants, but not the rest of their clothes. The group was then taken into a cell, described as approximately 3x2m in size.

In that cell, another 14 people were already detained when the respondent and his group arrived. Their nationalities were Syrian, Afghan, Moroccan and Palestinian. Among them were three women and one minor aged 17. The respondent reported that none of them had received any food or water. According to him, none of the people present had been given the chance to ask for asylum even though they had the clear intention to do so, but “they don’t let you talk. If you talk, you get beaten.”

After only 15 min in that cell, the whole group was ordered to leave the police station and enter a vehicle parked outside.

The group of 20 was reportedly taken into an old van driven by 2 officers in black clothes and balaclavas. The drive lasted for around 30min and they arrived at the Evros/Meric river. At the river, another 11 officers and 100 people were present. The officers were wearing green camouflage uniforms. Among the 100 people, there were many women and several children, the youngest one probably around 12 years old, according to the respondents estimation. Their nationalities included Syria, Palestine, India and Morocco. Two more officers were present on the boat that had already been prepared. It was around two hours after sunset. 

In groups of 8, they were ordered to embark the boat. According to the respondent, the two officers paddled them all halfway across the river before ordering them to jump into the water. The respondent described that the water level reached up to his (a tall male) chest and the current was quite strong but, as far as the respondent is aware, everyone made it across the river to the Turkish side. “But you never know” he adds.

When he and his companions arrived in Turkey, they walked for one or two hours and reached Ipsala.