“If you run away, you will get into a lot of trouble”

  • Date and time: November 1, 2020 19:00
  • Location: Ditymoteicho
  • Coordinates: 41.3476492, 26.4956372
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 40 person(s), age: unknown , from: Syria, Morocco, Algeria, DR Congo
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), threatening with guns, theft of personal belongings, poor air during car ride
  • Police involved: At least 13 police officers dressed in the Greek uniform, at least 4 “masked men” and 6-8 Turkish military
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • 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?: Unknown
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

The respondent, 26 and from Morocco, had recently arrived in Greece with three other Moroccans prior to the pushback. They had traveled from Meriç in Turkey and stayed there for one night the following day before they crossed to Greece. They then walked through a forest and lots of hills for 2.5 days until they arrived in a village.

They were running out of food and so two people from the group went to find some food in the village, while the other two, including the respondent, hid. They did not come back for 3 hours, so the others decided that they must have been caught and carried on without them. They walked for another 2.5 days, living off the little amount of food they had left. They walked for 10km down a highway until they reached a lorry park near Lasmos.

They both decided to hide underneath one of the trucks. They arrived at the lorry park at 7pm and got onto the lorry at 4am. They lay on the metal bar that joins the wheels together. After three hours, they arrived in Thessaloniki. 

When they arrived in Thessaloniki, the respondents’ friend wanted to go to the camp. But the respondent refused as he believed the police would have caught them. So they decided to stay in a hotel for two nights.

The respondents’ family wanted to send money from Morocco, but the respondent needed someone who had a white card. He met someone who knew from Istanbul in Thessaloniki. They went to the Western Union together, and were apprehended by three police officers who were dressed in civilian clothes.

His friend who went to the Western Union with him told the respondent not to run as last time they took his white card. His friend continued to explain and said: “If you run away, you will get into a lot of trouble”. So they did not run. The three police asked where they were from, and they lied and said they were Palestinian, not Moroccan. The police took them to the police station in a normal white police patrol car. This police station had three cells, the respondent was in one of them with no windows or toilets.

Three more police in the station made them take off their clothes and took everything from them. These police officers were dressed in Greek police uniforms. They spent one night in the police station.

After this, the next morning, three police took them to another police station in Kavala. They stayed there for one night and were made to wait while police brought more and more people there. There were about 14-16 people in his cell when the respondent was taken there. By the end of the day there were at least 40 people. The following day they were taken to a detention facility nea Didymoteicho by a white car. The centre was crowded and the respondent slept on the ground and was deprived of food. The police here were dressed in black uniforms with no identification on the outside and were wearing balaclavas.

At around 7pm, when it got dark, they were pushed back to Turkey. There were 8 people in the respondents boat, including himself, which was driven by one Afghani and one Syrian. The rest of the people were taken 7 by 7. They took them across the river, but dropped the people in the middle of the river and made them jump in and cross the rest by themselves. 

When they arrived on the Turkish side, the Turkish military were waiting for them. They were greeted nicely by the military who made them a fire, gave them food and water. But after about half an hour, they were told they needed to go back to Greece. On foot, without a boat. The respondent told the military he did not know how to swim, so he refused and pretended he had health issues. In response to this, one of the Turkish military soldiers started to hit him with the base of his gun. The respondent lifted himself up and left along with his friend and some women and children.

They walked for an hour and found a car in a small village. The driver charged them €100 each for a ride to Istanbul, of which he paid with money he borrowed from a friend when he arrived in Istanbul.