The respondent, a 24 year old Moroccan man, experienced four pushbacks from Greece to Turkey, the most recent one on the 22nd of March 2022.
They arrived after one hour at 1 pm, then walked for a bit until arriving near to the river where they began preparing a boat in order to cross the border. While preparing the boat, the respondent reported that they saw two men, dressed in a black jacket and black pants, but without any insignia or logo, in the Greek territory who were patrolling the area.
These men were talking to them in English, and they said “Go, go, no Greece”. The respondent and his two friends waited for an additional hour after the men passed and then 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. However, only 20 minutes after crossing they were reportedly apprehended in the forest in which they were hiding. Three of the men who apprehended them were described as being dressed like the previous men, but one of the uniformed men had additionally a blue arm band saying “European Border Guard” with a badge on his shoulder showing the EU stars and two additional yellow stars. Two of the uniformed men were wearing dark blue uniforms with “Police” written on it and a Greek flag stitched on their left arm sleeve.
These uniformed men arrived in two 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.
All of them were carrying firearms, according to the respondent.
Next to the hiding place there was an unpaved road. The respondent stated that he saw a black drone around 50 metres over their heads which kept flying over them for five minutes and then left. Ten minutes later the two vehicles and uniformed men reportedly arrived with their firearms screaming at them “Come out, come out”. They told them to get down, “as if 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 reported that he was hit 3 times with a plastic baton. His two friends got hit as well, he confirmed. The uniformed men asked them to put their phones in front of them and then started searching them one by one. They reportedly took all the money the transit group had with them (50 Euros) and then told them to sit down until a white van arrived.
According to the respondent, the men in uniform didn’t talk much to him and his friends, but they (the transit group) expressed the intention to claim asylum and asked to go to the camp. In response to that, one man reportedly kicked the respondent’s chest and told him “Look, Turkey is good, stay there, Greece no”. The uniformed men kept the phones and the money, the respondent recounted. Approximately 30 minutes later a white Ford van arrived; the respondent described that they were loaded into the trunk and taken to a different spot next to the river in order to be pushed back from there.
In the white van, the respondent counted three men wearing civilian clothes and balaclavas. He stated that the driving 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 an approximated 30 minutes and they stopped at around 3 pm. The trunk was closed so they couldn’t see the outside. There was no where to sit.
At the pushback point, the respondent explained that there was a bigger forest and they could see buildings on the Turkish side. Two other men wearing sage green uniforms were also described at the pushback point (in addition to the three men in civilian clothing who drove the van). The sage green uniform had “Police” written on their left chest jacket and a Hellenic Police logo on their arm sleeves, and the men were carrying firearms.
The men in civilian clothing spoke Syrian Arabic. They reportedly told the transit group in Arabic:
“Don’t make the officer upset, let us beat you, just follow the orders, we bring you near to Edirne, but stop trying before you lose your life”.
The Arabic speakers talked in Greek with the other men. The orders were to remain silent and cross fast into Turkish territory. One of the uniformed men was holding a plastic baton which he reportedly used to hit the respondent and his friends. Five minutes passed in which the uniformed men waited, watching the Turkish side. The respondent assumed this was “to make sure there were no Turkish soldiers and that it’s safe to push us back from there”. After five minutes, the respondent reported that the man with the plastic baton violently forced them to walk into the river and cross to Turkey, while the two men in sage green uniforms threatened them with their firearms.
The respondent described that he and his friends walked for a little bit and in the middle of the river, the water 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 to get away from the border. After 40 minutes they arrived at “Trakya University” from where they walked an additional 2 hours to Edirne, in total approximately 12 kilometres.