“At the pushback point were 3 men in civilian clothing and Balaclavas. They were speaking syrian arabic to the respondent: “Don't make the officer upset, let us beat you, just follow the order, stop trying before you lose your life””

  • Date and time: March 22, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Nea Vyssa (GR) to Bosna (TR)
  • Coordinates: 41.5863678, 26.5428404
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 19-24 years old , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, threatening with guns, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 2x men in black jacket + black pants; 3 x men in deep blue uniform with “Police” written on their back and a greek flag stitched on their left arm sleeve, one of them with a blue arm band saying “European border guard” with EU stars + a two yellow stars - badge on the shoulder; 1x old green Jeep of the brand “Cherokee”; 1x white Nissan pick-up truck with blue stripes and “Police” written in english on the side; 1x white Ford van; 3x men in civilian clothing + Balaclavas speaking syrian arabic; 2 x men in sage green uniforms with “Police” written on their left chest jacket + a hellenic logo on their arm sleeves
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, a 24 year old Moroccan, experienced 4 pushbacks from Greece to Turkey, the most recent one on the 22nd of March 2022. 

He started his journey by taking a bus from Edirne to Saçlımüsellim on the 21st of March at around 12 pm. He was accompanied by 2 of his friends, also from Morocco and between 19 – 24 years old. 

They arrived after one hour at 1 pm, then walked for a bit until arriving at an abandoned house near to the river where they could prepare to boat in order to cross the border with it. The boat was a gray and white paddle rubber boat, which took 30 minutes to be prepared. In the meantime they saw 2 men, dressed in a black jacket and black pants (as the picture indicates below), but without any insignia or logo, in the Greek territory who were patrolling the area. 

image 1: uniform of the patrolling men, but without the blue arm band

These men were talking to them in English “Go, go, No Greece”. The respondent and his two friends waited for them to pass and for another hour, checking whether they were coming back. After that, they crossed the border. 

Once on Greek territory they walked for 100 meters and then tried to hide between the trees, but still not far from the river. The plan was to hide until it gets dark and then continue walking. But only 20 minutes after crossing they got apprehended in the forest in which they were hiding. 3 men who apprehended them were dressed as the previous men, but one of the uniformed men had additionally a blue arm band saying “European border guard” with EU stars and a two yellow stars – badge on his shoulder. 2 of the uniformed men were wearing deep blue uniforms with “Police” written on it and a greek flag stitched on their left arm sleeve. The respondent recognised the uniform to look as the image 1 above and the following. 

image 2: Long sleeve Greek Border Guard uniform

These 3 uniformed men arrived in 2 cars; one old green Jeep of the brand “Cherokee” and one white Nissan pick-up truck with blue stripes and “Police” written in english on the side.

image 3: Frontex patrol car near Orestiada
image 4: Greek police pick up truck

All of them were armed with what resembled MP5 guns of the german brand “Heckler & Koch” which the respondent could identify to be similar as in the image below:

image 5: Heckler & Koch MP5

Next to the hiding place there was an unpaved road. The respondent saw a black drone in about 50 m distance over their heads which kept flying over them for 5 minutes and then left. 10 minutes later the 2 vehicles and uniformed men arrived with their guns screaming at them “Come out, come out”. They told them to get down, “as we are terrorists. We were afraid and came out with our hands in the air. They asked us to kneel down and started kicking us immediately on my shoulder and screaming in Greek”. The respondent was sitting in the front and got hit 3 times with a plastic baton. His two friends got hit as well. The uniformed men asked them to put their phones in front of them and then started searching one by one. They took all the money they had with them (50 Euros) and later told them to sit down until a white van arrived. 

The men in uniform didn’t talk much to the respondent and his friends, but they asked to go to the camp. In response to that, one man kicked on the respondents chest and told him “Look, Turkey is good, stay there, Greece no”. The uniformed men kept the phones and the money. 30 minutes a white Ford van (image below) arrived where they got loaded in the trunk and taken to a different spot next to the river in order to be pushed back from there. 

image 6: White Ford Van

In the white van, there were 3 men wearing civilian clothes and Balaclavas. The driving itself was fast and reckless. “It was scary how the driver drifted on the unpaved roads and the van didn’t stop shaking from all the potholes”. 

The drive lasted 30 minutes and they arrived at around 3 pm. The trunk itself was closed so they couldn’t see the outside. There was no where to sit. 

At the pushback point was a bigger forest and they could see buildings on the Turkish side. 2 other men wearing sage green uniforms were also at the pushback point (in addition to the 3 men in civilian clothing who drove the van). The sage green uniform had “Police” written on their left chest jacket and a hellenic logo on their arm sleeves. 

The respondent identified the uniform to look like the uniforms below. 

image 7: Green-uniformed Greek border guards

They were armed with submachine guns, which looked like the following image. 

image 8: Uzi

The men in civilian clothing spoke Syrian Arabic and told them in Arabic:

“Don’t make the officer upset” to not get beaten up and “let us beat you, just follow the order, we brought you to near place to Edirne, but stop trying before you lose your life”. 

To the other uniformed men they spoke in Greek. The orders were to remain silent and cross fast to the Turkish territory. One of the uniformed men, which looked similar to the greek police uniform, was holding a plastic baton which he used for hitting the respondent and his friends. 5 minutes passed in which the uniformed men waited, watching the Turkish side. The respondent assumed “to make sure there were no Turkish soldiers and that it’s safe to push us back from there”. After 5 minutes, the men with the plastic baton forced them physically violently to walk in the river and cross to Turkey. The two men in sage green uniforms additionally threatened them with their guns. 

The respondent and his friends walked for a little bit and in the middle of the river, the river was too deep so they had to swim. 

After being pushed back to Turkey, they kept on walking so they would feel less cold and stay away from the border and not to be seen. After 4ß minutes they arrived at “Trakya University”  from where they walked an additional 2 hours to Edirne, in total approximately 12 kilometers. 

At the apprehension side, the respondent expressed towards the men in black uniform his intention to claim asylum and to go to the camp. The reaction was being ignored and being kicked on the shoulders.