“People were forced to undress and then, eight by eight, were loaded into a boat”

  • Date and time: February 8, 2020 21:00
  • Location: Alexandroupoli, Greece
  • Coordinates: 40.981204, 26.325298
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 16 person(s), age: 27-30 , from: Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: Black uniforms and balaclavas; army uniforms
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, denial of food/water, physical violence (beating)
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Philoxenia

Original Report

The respondent in this case, a 27-year-old man from Morocco, was in the city of Alexandroupoli (GR) with other five men from Morocco and Algeria aged 29-30, when they were caught by police, at approximately 23.00 on 7th February 2020. Five policemen wearing black uniforms and ski masks forced the transit group onto a bus where there were already around 30 people detained. This group was composed of men, women and children, hailing from different countries, including Pakistan and Syria.

The people on the bus were transported to a “detention centre” near Alexandroupoli. The respondent is not aware of the exact location however it is likely that this was one of the three border-guard outposts which serve a detention centres [Feres, Tychero or Soufli] in the area. In total, approximately 50 people were being held at the detention centre. There, six male and four female officers stole the detainees money and “everything”. Some of these officers were wearing the same black uniforms of those that apprehended the transit group, whilst others were dressed in army uniform. In addition to the theft, the officers beat some people with batons, “some people like a little bit, some people too much”. The respondent himself was beaten with the baton and punched. Access to both water and food was denied and only permission to use the toilets was granted. No one asked for asylum. 

People were detained until the next day, 8th February 2020, at around 21.00, sixteen of them were loaded in a big vehicle similar to a bus “closed like detention” and were transported to the Meriç/Evros river (approximate coordinates 40.981204,26.325298). There, four police officers were waiting to push them back to Turkey. People were forced to undress and then, eight by eight, were loaded into a boat from which they could not see outside; because of this, the respondent does not know who was driving the boat. When they reached Turkey, the Turkish police, “the army” saw them and shot in the air, shouting at them “‘be there, don’t come”. So, the transit group waited there for three nights close to the border area sleeping outside. Then they managed to escape police control and headed to a town where they had previously slept. 

The same respondent also refers to a previous time when, still in Turkey, he tried to cross the same river from which he was pushed back in this last case (approximate coordinates 40.981204,26.325298) on, around 3rd February 2020. At the time of this previous attempt, the respondent was caught with another eight men (Morocco, Algeria, aged 27-32) by four Turkish police officers wearing army uniforms with the Turkish flag. The respondent and his group were transported, travelling on a bus for roughly 30 minutes, to a nearby camp whose name the respondent cannot recall. After spending three days in the camp, the group was transferred to a police station where no translator was present to facilitate the ongoing procedures. There, the respondents had their fingerprints and pictures taken and received a paper from the police containing personal information such as name and age, which the respondent describes as a sort of “carta”.