“A new practice in Northern Greece - from Igumenitsa to Turkey”

  • Date and time: May 3, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Feres
  • Coordinates: 40.742790221978034, 26.041011630939707
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 60 person(s), age: 23 years old , from: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, insulting, electric shock, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: Igumenitsa: 5 in cover clothes plus the captain; 2 police officers driving the van; 3 officer in border uniform; 6 army officers
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

 “G.” is asylum seeker in Greece who arrived to the country towards the end of 2019 and he asked for asylum in Filakio; he also states that he spent several months in Drama centre. He was the primary respondent for this report. 

On the 3rd of May at a little after midnight, the respondent, along with two other people, were going to buy some food in a 24 hour grocery shop in Igoumenitsa. Within the group, there was a man who had been waiting for official papers in Greece for just 20 days. They were celebrating Ramadan. People-on-the-move staying in the city often live in a forest which is colloquially referred to as the “jungle”. It is a bit outside  the city centre, but near to the main gate of the Port (see picture). When the men came to the inner-city area for their errand, they were stopped by “private security”. “G.” and the rest of the group could not see them well because they were in a car with black windows. According to the respondent, the “private security” wore civilian clothing: one of them was in red jacket, blue pants, wearing cap. They said: “Come with us” and, afterwards, they arrested them. When the respondent asked where they were taking them, the “security guy” answered they would send them to Athens. Far from the truth, they instead were brought to a building which the respondents described as “Comando house”. At this building, they found another 14 more people who had been arrested within the city that evening with similar methods.

One or two hours later, another vehicle arrived to the building. The respondent described it as follows:

“Like a bus, blue color, a jail car, with separate cells which you cannot run away from. When you are inside, you cannot see outside”

“Door is lock, door is lock, door is lock” (see drawing).

They put them inside and two police officers were driving. The respondent states that the travel lasted around 10 hours. 

An image obtained of the “jail car” which the respondent described as transporting the group to the Turkish border
A drawing of the “jail car”

According to “G.”, the bus transported them all the way back to the border with Turkey, but they were still on the Greek side (see map). When they were told to exit out of the vehicle, three Greek police officers were outside: two men and one woman. The woman had an electro-taser and she was described as shocking the individuals of the group as they were getting out. Besides that, these police officers also were described as physically hitting them as the left the vehicle. It was the first out of three times that the group would be beaten during their ordeal. According to the respondent, the perpetrators were wearing border police uniforms. Afterwards, they “put them in jail” nearby the border for between 5 and 6 hours. 

After this, an officer wearing an army uniform arrived to their cell and asked the group for their money; he also broke their phones and started to “hit too much”. It was the second time the group were beaten. The respondent further described that they were ordered to give over much of their clothing of their bodies and some people had their papers torn up.

“There is a room like Comando where they wear black mask” (balaclavas). There, they took the clothes even the shoes, just having the shorts, they hit again.”

 

The respondent described being held in a container immediately before being pushed back. He believed that this detention location may have been where the arrow designates

Afterwards they were brought to a “container like those of trailer” on foot (see drawing). There were around 60 more arrested people,  among them were Afghan, Pakistani, and Syrian nationals. The respondent recalled that they were “close to die because the lack of oxygen, you know, container is locked”.

Eventually, they were all brought out of this container and were brought even closer to the border, next to the Evros river. At this point once, 6 officers clad in army-like fatigues beat them for the third time with batons:

“Break hands, break legs, hit too much”.

Close to the river, they put them “in plastic boats”; around 30 – 35 people in each boat. The respondent described them as “Comando boats.”

“Comando boat, they have them in the border”.

During this time, the respondent recalled that the Greek authorities were looking around to make sure that there was not any people witnessing the actions, such Turkish border police. Once they checked that out, they sent the boat across the river to Turkish territory, towards the other side of Evros river, with the help of what the respondent described as a non-Greek person.

“There is a place, forest, we put out in the wood. The weather was warm, too much mosquitos” 

In Turkey, the group became fractured and the respondent walked almost a half a day to reach a small city in Turkey, without shoes and clothes. They only had on their t-shirts and underwear and were afraid that they would be arrested again.

“We walked, walked, walked, we were in shock.”

It is important to be mindful here that the memories after being pushed back can often get blurred, therefore the events once they were in Turkey are not precise. The respondent recalled that they continued walking and at one point entered a forested area.

Finally, several Turkish police officers found the respondent and his companions and they brought them to a  “when people [get] pushed back, [they] bring here”. The location of this camp remains undetermined. At the time of the interview, the respondent and the group are still in Turkey.