““I asked him in which police station I am and he told me “in hell”. We were so thirsty, we could barely walk. I really didn't know this was happening, in this way of humiliation”. Respondent who has a legal asylum status in Greece was violently pushed back to Turkey. ”

  • Date and time: March 2, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Kissari (GR) / Karayusuflu (TR)
  • Coordinates: 41.2724589, 26.3982826
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 70 person(s), age: 1-50 years old , from: Afghanistan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Somalia
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, exposure to air condition and extreme temperature during car ride, insulting, sexual assault, threatening with guns, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 3x men in yellow jackets, black pants like traffic police; 2x men in deep blue police uniform with greek logo; 2 x white Scoda with blue stripes & “Police” written on it; 1x civil white Ford when without license plate; 2x men in sportswear and Balaclavas; 2x white Mercedes Van; 1x red Mercedes van all without license plates; 4x rubber boats in blue + gray; 7 men & 1 female at detention site, all dressed in sage green uniforms with a police logo on their arm sleeves & “Police '' written on the chest, 3 of them in black bulletproof west, the others in sage green long sleeves shirt or sage green jackets with sage green pants; 9x men in camouflage short sleeve Jackets over a black shirt and black pants, some in civilian clothing, all of them with Balaclavas and no insignia or logo; 2x white Mercedes van; 1x red Mercedes van; some Ford civilian vans, but all of them without license plates; 4x green camouflage greek uniforms armed with guns; 11x men in civilian clothing and Balaclavas
  • 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, personal belongings taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, a 35-year-old man from Libya, experienced a pushback from Kissari (GR) to Karayusuflu (TR). In 2015 he crossed from Tunisia to Italy, lived in Germany and in 2017 got his asylum submitted in Greece after moving there. The respondent was working the past 5 years in Thessaloniki as an electrician, with a legal status which ended 02.03.2022, the day he was pushed back. 

The respondent got caught on 28.02.2022 at 10 pm in Alexandroupoli, near to the Ekklisia Agios Nektarios church. He and two other men, from Morocco and Algeria, 32 and 35 years old,  were in the car when 5 men apprehended them. 3 of them were dressed in yellow jackets and black pants, similar to uniforms of traffic police. The other two were wearing a deep blue uniforms. “Police” was written in capital letters on both uniforms in the front as well as the Hellenic police insignia stitched on the left arm sleeve. The uniforms were identified to be the same as in images 1 and 2 : 

image 1: source
image 2: Hellenic Police Badge

The respondent mentioned also a jacket with long sleeves and recognized the uniform to be similar to the one in image 3, but the uniformed men were not wearing a hat during this pushback. 

image 3: Short sleeved Greek Police  uniform

These 5 men in uniforms were driving 2 white Scoda, with blue stripes and “Police” written in English on the side. It looked similar to the Greece police car, image 4: 

image 4: Scoda Octavia Greek Police Car

The respondent could not identify the exact type of weapons they were armed with, as these were in their holster. 

On the 28 of February, the day they got apprehended, the respondent had received a call at 12 pm from a friend who he has known since crossing from Tunisia. They asked him to give them a ride from Alexandroupoli to Thessaloniki. At about 5 pm the respondent met them in Alexandroupoli, where they were hiding near an old railway and train trolley junkyard, where they stayed until 9:45 pm. The respondent was driving for 15 minutes when he encountered the patrolling police on the road. They were stopping him and asked for his documents, which the respondent did not bring as he knew there could be the risk of being controlled. No one of his friends had documents either and the friends were planning to cross Greece. The uniformed men were pulling the respondent and his 2 friends out of the car and left them waiting for 30 minutes outside in the cold weather. 

The uniformed men asked the respondent in Greek if he was a smuggler, what he was doing, where he was taking the men, and if there are any other people around. The respondent answered by telling the truth about everything, that he is legally staying and working in Greece and living in his own apartment. 

The blue-uniformed man was surprised by the respondent speaking Greek and kept telling him that he was in a lot of trouble, calling him a smuggler. The respondent kept denying and saying that he is not a smuggler. 

After being apprehended, the uniformed men searched the three men and also inside the car. They took their phones and then asked them to sit on the ground. They kept the phones and let them sit for another 30 minutes. 

After that, another can came and loaded them into the trunk. The van was a civil white van of Ford, nothing was written on it or no logo which would indicate that its an official vehicle, it did not even have license plates. The van was identified as the same as image 5: 

image 5: source

2 men arrived in the unmarked white van, wearing sportswear jackets and pants, one in black on the other one in Adidas and green and black with white sneakers. Both of them were wearing Balaclavas. 

These two officers load the respondent and his friends in the trunk, where they had to sit on the floor. The trunk itself was of 3 by 2 meters in size. “I was afraid of what’s going to happen later and my friend tried to calm me down, but it didn’t work”. The driving itself was very fast and took almost one hour. They could not look outside. Then they arrived at a detention center, which the respondent described as an old building respectively the wall, surrounded by a small yard that was fenced. There was no indication of being a police station or anything written, it looked like a military barrack. “I got more afraid”

There were various vehicles parked inside the detention center: 2 white vans and 1 red van from Mercedes with no license plates and 4 rubber boats around. One of the boats was used but already prepared, the other ones were unused on the side of the van in blue and gray. 

The boats were recognized to be similar to the image 6: 

image 6: source

The red van was identified as the same as image 7:

image 7: source

 The other 2 white vans were identified as similar as image 8: 

image 8: White van – often Mercedes or Renault

The respondent could see the lights of some houses around 400 meters away. He recalled seeing what appeared to be many caravans around the houses. 

There were 7 men and 1 woman at the detention site, all dressed in sage green uniforms with a police logo on their arm sleeves and “Police” written on their chest. 3 of them were wearing black bulletproof vests and the others sage green long sleeves shirts or sage green jackets with sage green pants, the uniforms could be identified as the same as image 9: 

image 9: Green-uniformed border guards

Everything was weird for me, so I asked one of them: “Sir, is there any problem?”. He looked at me and said “You speak Greek?”. I asked him which police station I am and he told me “in hell”. He slapped me on my face and screamed at me to walk inside in a small room, where they undressed us and searched us and every time I tried to talk, they beat us for 5 minutes, while we were naked”.  

The uniformed men were kicking and punching and used a plastic baton for the beating. 

The money and clothes were given back to the respondent and others from the transit group. Only one backpack of the respondent’s friends wasn’t turned back. 

After being searched and beaten, they were taken to a cell that was 5 by 6 meters big. Inside was a metal bunk bed without a mattress or a cover and a toilet, which gave off a disgusting smell. The ground and wall were extremely dirty. 

25 other people were already detained inside, from Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Somali, Libya, and Syria, between 24 to 40. 2 Syrian women were among them, at that point, no minors were detained in the cell yet. 

They were detained for 2 days in that cell. 

After 2 days the detention was completely full, around 250 people were inside, more than 9 women and a baby of 1 or 2 years with her mom. 

The uniformed men sometimes brought groups of people, like 15 together to that cell, sometimes 1 or 2 per hour. 

On the second day of detention, one man in sage green uniform asked 2 people out of the cell to fill up 3 bottles of water from a faucet outside. They shared the three bottles but that was all that was given to them during the 2 days. “It wasn’t enough, some of us didn’t even get water”. 

No medical help was given to those who were injured, and no water or food was provided for the women and children. Some Syrians were only wearing underwear because their clothes were not returned back at the detention site. 

Then, a man in sage green uniform which is similar to the greek police uniform, called his friend and asked the respondent to come out of the cell, after the respondent had told him his story. Outside the cell they kicked the respondent and kept slapping him and saying “asshole, I will fuck your mum”, and otherwise heavily insulted the respondent in greek for about 10 minutes.

After being held in that cell for 2 days, 9 uniformed men took the people at around 1 am or 2 am to the river. They were wearing camouflage short sleeve Jackets over a black shirt and black pants, some of them were dressed in civilian clothing, and all of them were wearing Balaclavas. Their clothing didn’t have any insignia or logo which would indicate some authority. They were carrying tree branches with which they beat the group for 1 minute to go faster and get in the van’s trunk. 

There were several vehicles at the site: 2 white vans, one red Mercedes van, and some Ford civilian vans, but all of them were without license plates. 70 people were loaded in each trunk, it was hard to stand with that many people. “We were loaded like sheep in the trunk, women, and kids also inside. Sometimes when [the driver] drifted, we felt like we are going to flip.” The driving itself was fast and reckless and took around 15 minutes. As the trunk was locked and dark, the respondent couldn’t look outside. 

They arrived at a small forest, next to the river where they could still see some Turkish village lights. There were 2 unpaved roads next to the river, one for cars and one for walking. Again they had to stand in one line in order to be searched. Although they had left the detention site with many vans, only the van the respondent was loaded into, was by that point at that pushback site. 15 uniformed men were at the river side. 4 of them were wearing green camouflage uniforms, the others were wearing civilian clothing with Balaclavas. The green camouflage uniform had a greek flag stitched to one arm sleeve, the civilian clothes did not show any sign or logo. 

The uniform was identified as similar as image 10: 

image 10: Hellenic Army Uniform

These men in uniform were carrying a night vision scope and all of them were armed with guns. The one dressed in civilian clothes holds tree branches. The respondent identified the weapons to look similar to the picture depicted below:

image 11: FN FAL

The men in civilian clothing were speaking Arabic and were threatening the group with words to scare them to not hide money. 

The orders were “Don’t make any sounds; Give the money you have now before we find it while searching you, otherwise, you will be beaten”. 

Everyone was standing in one line in order to get searched before going on the boat. They took money and shoes from everyone. The respondent only was wearing his jacket, pants, and shoes. Meanwhile, everyone from the transit group was hit with the tree branches. One of the men in civilian clothes held the branch in front of the respondent’s face to threaten him. They told him in Arabic in the Syrian dialect that regardless of if he was hiding anything – although the respondent had already shown and given his money – they would hit him with the branch. Then the respondent was asked to go. 

Minors were beaten as well, and the women out of the pushback group were searched by male uniformed men. “The way he moved his hand while searching the women – it’s real harassment”. After one hour of waiting next to the river, the respondent–who was almost the last person in line–got on the boat. The boat was a rubber boat of 2 by 3 meters in size, in the colors blue and gray. 8 people plus 2 drivers were on that boat. The boat did not have any engine so they used paddles. In the middle of the river, they asked everybody to jump in the water. The water level was over the chest. Everyone from the initial van was pushed back, the respondent was in the last group of 8 who crossed the river. 

Once in Turkey, the respondent and one friend started running away from the border through a muddy field in order to hide. They walked barefoot and frozen. Then they arrived in a village called Karayusuflu where they found a public faucet. “We were so thirsty, we could barely walk”. For one day and night, they walked before arriving at Edirne. “We ate from some garbage we found some food from a restaurant and bread until we arrived in Edirne”. 

“I didn’t have to ask for asylum because I already have a permit. I told them that everywhere. In response they kicked, slapped and really humiliated me”. I really didn’t know this was happening, in this way of humiliation”.