“I still feel pain in my back”

  • Date and time: June 7, 2020 04:00
  • Location: On the river Evros, near the Turkish town of Meriç
  • Coordinates: 41.20112806973637, 26.323038444963156
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 31 person(s), age: One minor, the rest of the transit group were between the ages of 21-35 , from: Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 12+ Greek police officers, 2 Greek police cars, I blue police van, 1 boat (colour and type unknown).
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, photos taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Wave - Thessaloniki

Original Report

On the 6th of June, the respondent in question was illegally pushed back from Greece to Turkey across the Evros River. The respondent is 21 years old and from Algeria. 

The respondent was arrested in Kamara, Thessaloniki (GRK) by Greek police at around 7:00 pm on the 5th of June. The respondent identified the officers as part of the Greek forces from their black uniforms. The officers asked the respondent whether he had identification papers (khartia and white card). As the respondent did not have any identification papers, he was arrested along with three other men from Algeria and one man from Morocco (who ranged from the ages of 25 to 30 years old). The group was handcuffed and taken in two police cars to a detention centre. Two arrestees were brought to the detention centre in one police car and the other three arrestees were transported in a separate car – each police car was supervised by two Greek police officers. The respondent does not know the exact location of the detention centre, however, he states that the car journey lasted for approximately 5-7 minutes from Kamara, Thessaloniki (GRK) [possibly the Thessaloniki Aliens Police Directorate holding facility] . 

At the detention centre, the respondent was held in a cell overnight and was given food and water. The officers took the respondent’s photograph and fingerprint. The respondent was told by police that after 24 hours, he would receive identification papers. The following day, the respondent did indeed receive identification papers. On the 6th of June, a police van arrived at the detention centre with a capacity of holding 31 people. The respondent describes the police van as a dark blue. As the police van had space for five more people, the respondent was forced to board the police van. At this point, the police officers tore up the identification papers that they had produced for the respondent and took his belongings. The respondent explains that his phone, clothes, jewellery, shoes, cigarettes, and lighter was stolen. He was only allowed to bring one t-shirt with him. The respondent explains that when the police van was at capacity it consisted of men from Pakistan, Algeria, and Morocco, with the oldest man being around 35 years old. The respondent explains that there was one minor in the vehicle. The transit group arrived at the Greek city, Alexandroupoli, at 10:00 pm. The transit group was held in a detention centre outside of Alexandroupoli (GRK) – likely one of the border-guard outposts  which serve a detention centres [Feres, Tychero or Soufli] in the area. A similarly described detention and push-back process from February can be accessed here.

On 7th June 2020 and at 4 am, the transit group was taken in another van to the border region. On this journey, the respondent explains that there were 10 officers present. Two of the officers began beating the group with batons. The respondent explains that the two officers who were beating the transit group were wearing dark blue clothing with badges and were large in stature. The respondent explains that he was beaten on his arms and his back. He states that:

I still feel pain in my back.

At the border, the respondent explains that the police officers had men from Pakistan assisting them with the pushback operation. The respondent explains that the men from Pakistan were given black balaclavas to wear and had been told by the police officers that if they helped with the pushback operations for a month, they would be given Greek identification papers. There was one boat with a capacity of 14 people that went back and forth across the Meriç/Evros river, pushing smaller groups of people back from Greece to Turkey (exact location unknown). The respondent explains that it went back and forth three times to push the entire transit group back to Turkey. The respondent explains that the boat did not have a working engine and hence was being maneuvered by the Pakistani men. 

Once on Turkish land, the transit group headed to the small town of Meriç (TU). The respondent was able to make his way back to Istanbul (TU) at noon. The respondent crossed the Turkey-Greece border again at midnight, however, was arrested at Alexandroupoli (GRK) and pushed back to Turkey. The respondent stayed in Turkey for another two days before crossing the Turkey-Greece border again with a friend, however, this time he was caught in Komotini (GRK) and was pushed back to Turkey. The respondent successfully managed to cross the Turkey-Greece border on his third attempt and made his way back to Thessaloniki (GRK).