“A group of more than 80 people pushed-back across the Evros river from Greece to Turkey”

  • Date and time: May 7, 2020 13:00
  • Location: Evros river, Greece, near Uzunkopru, Turkey
  • Coordinates: 41.323436794272, 26.576615386516
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 80-90 person(s), age: 19-65 years old , from: Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 4 Greek police officers, 2 unmarked white vans, Greek special forces in black uniforms with Greek flags and balaclavas, large blue police bus
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: no translator present, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Wave - Thessaloniki, Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent, a 30-year-old man from Morocco, walked for 17 days from Edirne, Turkey, towards Thessaloniki, together with 3 other people from Algeria in the age between 21 and 30. On 7th of May, 2020, they stopped in a village near Kavala, Greece, in order to buy some food, because they had been going without food for the previous two days, and they were fasting, as it was the Ramadan month. Around this time, four Greek authorities, all male, arrived in two unmarked white vans, accompanied by some villagers in 3 cars. Our respondent assumed that a villager must had called the police. The officers immediately became violent with the group-members, striking them several times. After this, the officers zip-tied their hands, pushed them to the ground, and forbid them from looking up. The police continued to beat them with closed fists and kicking them. Then they pushed them into one of the white vans with no windows and took them to the village police station. 

 At the police station, the police took away all their belongings – bags, food, mobile phones, and money. They forced everyone to undress in order to search them and their clothes. According to our respondent, the police were continuously beating them with plastic sticks and insulting them, so they were afraid to express the intention to apply for asylum. Our respondent back and hands had been injured from the beating, but the injuries were not visible anymore at the time of our interview. The police did not take any information or fingerprints from them and forbid them from speaking. They were put in a room with two other men from Syria and Egypt. The migrants told the police that they were fasting and were very thirsty and hungry in the evening, when it was the time to break the fast. However, the police did not give them any food or water. They had to drink the water from the toilet provided.

 After spending the night at the police station, at 11 am, the group of 6 was put into a large blue police bus. They were told that they would be taken to the Drama detention center, but they were taken to a camp near the border with Turkey, 2 and a half to 3 hours drive from the police station. None of their belongings were returned to them, only the clothes they were wearing, and their shoe laces were taken from their shoes. There were around 80 other people in the camp, including old men. 

 At around 1:00 pm, the police in black uniforms with Greek flags on their upper arms, wearing balaclavas, were taking people in smaller groups and bringing them to different locations at the riverside at the border. At the site where they brought our respondent, there were 12 policemen and some military personnel standing further away. The police ordered everyone to be quiet and beat anyone who made a sound with metal batons. They put people on a boat, operated by 3 persons, possibly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who brought them across the river in groups of 5, driving back and forth.

After the river-crossing, the migrants formed two groups. Our respondent was moving in a group of 25. There was another river branch, which they needed to cross by themselves, so they were soaked in water. The Turkish army spotted them and ordered them to stop, but they started running, because they were afraid of being caught and taken to a detention camp. Our respondent told us that one of his friends was being detained in Turkey. During the flight, the group dispersed and our respondent remained together with 3 other people. They continued walking through the forest until they reached a small village. They were approached by a policeman who offered them to arrange a driver that would take them to Istanbul for 100 euro from each person. Around 5 hours later, the driver arrived and took them to Istanbul. Our respondent returned to Thessaloniki on 28th of September, after he had gathered enough money for the trip.