This testimony describes a pushback from Greece to Turkey, which took place on 13 October around 11pm, at the Evros River along the Greek-Turkish border. This pushback impacted 15 young men, including the respondent who is 36 and originally from Pakistan. There were no minors or women involved.
The respondent had been working in Thessaloniki for about 4 months, arriving there in June 2020. However, the respondent was working in Kavala at the time of apprehension by the police. He was taken from a bus stop in Kavala. The police took his phone and his money – 700 euros in total, before putting him in a car to take him to the Kavala police station. There were four uniformed policemen, all of whom spoke in Greek. The policemen kept asking him questions, but the respondent did not understand Greek and kept saying “I don’t know. I don’t know”.
He was held in the police station in Kavala for two days. He was deprived of food and abused by police officers. He was constantly being told to look up and then punched in the face. They hit him in the head, back and legs, and kicked him while forcing him to undress. The police officers asked if the respondent had a mobile phone, but he lied and said no. When they searched him, they found his phone and hit him even more afterwards. The police officers continued to communicate to him in Greek and the respondent did not understand what they were saying.
“I was so tired and helpless” he stated.
Then, at night, three to four Greek officers, all wearing balaclavas, took the respondent and the others out of the police station, and kept telling them to look down. “I couldn’t look up, they would hit me with a baton if we looked up” the respondent explained. They subsequently kicked him in the back and put him in the back of a white van. The journey was long, about three hours in total.
When they arrived, they were ordered to leave and the respondent realised it was the Evros river. The masked Greek policemen took the respondent out of the car upon arrival at the river and hit him again. They continued to speak in Greek to him and the others. None of them understood what they were saying, but the police officers kept motioning for them to leave and go back to Turkey. He was then put in a small, plastic boat to cross the river to Turkey along with 15 other men. There were two men who paddled the boat with oars, and the journey across the river took 10-15 minutes.
When they arrived on the Turkish shore, they were met by Turkish military who told them to go back to Greece. The respondent was unable to make out their uniforms as it was dark. The men did not go back to Greece, instead they snuck out another way by going further down the shore. The respondent was able to get a taxi and go to Istanbul.
When asked if the respondent had any injuries, he replied they had faded. “When we were in the river, I was in pain from my beatings. I didn’t understand what was going on. I was going crazy” he continued to explain, “I don’t know when I will leave to try to go to Greece again, it has been five years since I left Pakistan. When I came back to Istanbul, I was in immense pain and had a temperature. I couldn’t believe what I was going through”.