“Please be silent, it is our government deciding what we do with you, I am sorry”

  • Date and time: June 20, 2020 01:00
  • Location: İpsala, Edirne, Turkey
  • Coordinates: 40.9562697, 26.2680259
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 60 person(s), age: 20-50 years old , from: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Iraq
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, sexual assault, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 12-14 police officers; 20 police officers, some in uniform and some in black clothes with masks
  • 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?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The transit group of 15 left Istanbul at 23:00 on 17th June 2020 and headed towards the GR-TR border. At 22:00 on 18th June 2020, they left Ipsala towards Greece, crossed the border and proceeded on foot through eggplant fields for one and a half hours nearby to a highway. At 00:00, the respondent alleged police officers (some in black uniforms wearing masks) apprehended the transit group and ordered some group members in German and Albanian to take off their shoes and clothes; the respondent believes they were ‘Commandos’. Whenever anybody in the transit group looked at the officers, they were beaten. Several members of the group (including the respondent) repeatedly asked for asylum; the officers laughed at them and said,

 “you have no reason to be here…shut up”

When the respondent asked where her human rights were, the officers replied,

“you don’t have any rights here, it’s our country, we don’t want you here…you are lying”

The officers forced the transit group into vehicles and repeatedly beat the men on their backs before taking them to a police station.

Here, they forced the transit group to hand over their phones, documents, backpacks and money. They were ordered to undress to their underwear and had their bodies searched; the respondent alleged the male officers searched the two women’s underwear and repeatedly touched them inappropriately. When the officers did find anything on a person, they ordered them to fully undress in front of the whole group. The officers handed the transit group disinfectant, gloves and papers (some with the UNHCR logo) in a foreign language. No one in the group signed any of papers, no fingerprints were taken and no fee was paid. After this, the officers forced the transit group into a container, roughly five-six meters long, with a total of 60 people inside.

For 36 hours the transit group were detained in this container without water and food. The two women were allowed to go to the toilet but none of the men were; the respondent alleged it was very hot and felt the oxygen level inside was extremely low. Approximately 12-14 officers were involved in this event at the police station.

At 01:00 on 26th June 2020, everyone in the container was removed and taken  were taken to the border. The respondent alleged that 20 police officers (some dressed in black) were involved in the pushback. Some threatened they would kill members of the transit group if they did not stay absolutely quiet during the pushback; one of them told the respondent,

“please be silent, it is our government deciding what we do with you, I am sorry. Tell them Germany paid lots of money to protect us from you, many German soldiers here” 

The transit group were taken to İpsala by boat, where Turkish police apprehended them and forced them to return back to Greece. The respondent started crying and was desperate, with no shoes, phone, and no money left. She was released by authorities while the rest of the transit group were forced back into Greek territory.