“One of us sank in the river. He died. We couldn’t find him later.”

  • Date and time: January 3, 2021 02:00
  • Location: Dilofos/Kapikule
  • Coordinates: 41.694976468372, 26.376340247607
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 40 person(s), age: 16-30 , from: Palestine, Syria, Morocco
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 4 Greek officers wearing green uniforms and black berets, 8 officers wearing green uniforms and balaclavas, three wearing civilian clothes.
  • Taken to a police station?: unknown
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: 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 recounts an incident where he was pushed back from Greece to Turkey. He was apprehended by 4 Greek officers along a highway in Greece after making the crossing from Turkey to Greece and spending a night in Greece. The 4 officers were wearing green military uniforms with black berets.

When the officers found the respondent, they hit him so hard with batons that they broke his leg. They then took him to a detention centre, where the respondent explained “they humiliated us. There no bed to sleep in or something that we can stay on. we only sit on the floor on the cold”. The respondent was in the detention centre with 40 to 50 other people, Syrian, Palestinian, and Moroccan, aged between 16 and around 30 years of age. At the place they were detained they had no access to a toilet and the cell “was so dirty and we couldn’t stand the smell”. He and the 40-50 other people were also denied food and water for the whole 2 days they were detained.

Among the 40-50 people detailed in the centre, there were also women. “They [the officers] maltreat them”, explained the respondent, “there been a pregnant woman, they hit her and another woman. They broke her arm”.

After 2 days of detention, the officers brought a bus to collect them. It was described as big and dark blue, with metal bars in front of the windows. 60-70 people in total, from the same detention centre and other detention centres, were loaded into the bus. “We couldn’t breathe” explained the respondent when he recounted his experience in the back of the bus. The officers that ordered them to get into the bus were also wearing military uniforms, with some wearing civilian clothes.

The bus ride took about 20 minutes until they arrived at the Evros/Meriç River. There was no boat to take people across the river. “They forced us and threatened us with guns to cross the river,” explained the respondent. They crossed the first part of the river to find a little island in the middle of Evros, and then they swam and made it to the other part of the river that joined the Turkish side. Before they crossed the river, the officers checked them all and took everything from them. The respondent explained sadly that “one of us sank in the river. He died. We couldn’t find him later”. The suspected death was the result of the officers forcing them to cross.

The location of the pushback was close to Kapikule.