“They weren’t Greek officers. There was no sign that showed that they were police officers, and they didn’t talk”

  • Date and time: March 6, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Karayusuflu/ Lavara
  • Coordinates: 41.2699615, 26.38509
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 70 person(s), age: 16-30 , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 5 officers in green army trousers, jackets, military boots and guns; 2 officers uniform unknown; three officers at the detention site wearing blue uniforms and black jackets; 7 officers at the river wearing black clothes and balaclavas holding guns and batons
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water, personal belongings taken, denial of medical attention
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, a 21 year old Mororccan man, was apprehended at night by five officers in Greece near Lavara after crossing the Evros/Meriç river at the Greek-Turkish land border and walking for 6 hours. He was with five others, a Syrian man with his wife and three Morccocan men aged between 21 and 26 years. The five officers were wearing green trousers and jackets – identified as border guard patrol uniforms – with military boots and were holding guns. They were driving a green military truck. They communicated to the respondent and others in a bit of English.

These officers took everything from them, including their phones, money – some  had €50, others had €100 (dependent on what they had on them) – food and the rest of their belongings. The respondent explained that when they were caught, some of them were hit with batons by the officers, some others were not. Some of the group were also kicked and beaten with the officers hands.

Another truck arrived, with two more officers. This truck was white and described as an old ford van. The respondent explained that he could not see their uniforms clearly as they were ordered to “look down” and had to “keep crawling” to get to the truck.

They were driven along a paved road for about 45 minutes to an hour in one of the trucks to “some place that looks like a jail”. They could not see anything on the journey as the car was completely closed, without windows. When they arrived, the officers took their clothes from them. The respondent and his group were the only ones in the truck, but when they arrived at the place of detention, there were others.

At the detention site, the officers were violent. People were nervous. There was a woman, aged between 25-28, there, and one of the female officers slapped her.

There were three officers at the detention site wearing blue uniforms and black jackets. They took the group into a cell about 8m x 6m – this was the only cell in the building. The respondent explained that there was a small window in the cell and they could see a car without a number plate on it, and a light from a house in the distance.

Initially there were 6 people in the cell, but after 1-2 hours, the officers kept bringing more. By the end of the day, there were about 20 people in the cell, including the respondent and the group he was apprehended with, all between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. Their nationalities were Tunisian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Libyan, Syrian, Iranian, and Lebanese. The respondent also identified someone as a “Hindu”.

They were detained for nearly a whole day. The detainees were denied food, water and medical care by the officers. They also were denied the use of a toilet. “It’s a stinky and very dirty place and cell” added the respondent.

The respondent explained that they were not allowed to talk and he was too afraid to ask for asylum. One of the Syrian guys asked, but the officers ignored him.

After around 24 hours, the whole group was taken out of the detention site and driven again in a truck, this time to the Evros river. The driving was described as fast at the beginning and then they slowed down. The journey took about 15 to 20 minutes, but the respondent could not see anything as the truck was closed with no windows. When they arrived, the respondent described that he could see a tree close to the river and they were surrounded by forest. There were seven other officers at the river when they arrived. They were wearing black clothes, holding guns and batons, and they wore balaclavas. The respondent explained “they weren’t Greek officers. There was no sign that showed that they were police officers, and they didn’t talk”. The officers beat some of the group, and in particular kicked the respondent many times.

When they arrived at the river, there were about 50-60 more people gathered there, on top of the respondents group of 20. Their nationalities were Pakistani, Afghan, Syrian, Egyptian and Moroccan.

There were two boats on the river side, with two officers in each and three officers were checking the people. The boats were plastic, about 3 m x 1.5 m each and had engines. They put 8 people in each boat to take them across. They were taken across near Karayusuflu.

The group of 70-80 were taken to what they believed to be the Turkish shore but turned out to be a small island. The respondent and others managed to clandestinely make it to the Turkish side (without being detected by Turkish soldiers). 

When they got to the Turkish side, the Turkish army found the 40-45 of the people. They were given food and water. Then they took them on a military truck and drove them for about 20km. They were then told by the army “to go wherever you want, either to Istanbul or any place you want”. They continued to walk, barefoot.

The respondent and the group walked for about a day and a half, about 50-60km, before they arrived in Edirne.