“They don’t have the right to send me back”

  • Date and time: October 16, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Soufli/Meriç
  • Coordinates: 41.1943451, 26.2992566
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 100 single men person(s), age: unknown , from: Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Morocco, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Unknown
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), forcing to undress, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: All Greek: minimum 12 in blue uniform, minimum four in civilian clothes, 7 in camouflage; white vans, riot bus
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent arrived in Thessaloniki in September, got registered as an asylum seeker and received a white card (“Khartia”). He was alone in a park around the train station of Thessaloniki on October 13 when he was apprehended by police. Four or five police officers in dark blue uniforms who arrived on motorbikes and cars. They asked him for his documents and he showed them his white card. The officers told him to take his clothes off and hit him.


Afterwards the respondent was taken into a white car and taken to a police station where he was hit again and then taken to another police station on a mountain in Thessaloniki.


There, he was put into a cell with 10 other men. They were kept there for two days. They did receive food and water. The respondent was told by police officers that he would be given his white card and would be released. One of the other men was indeed given his white card and released.

Then, during day time, all the remaining men were taken out of the cell and into a white car with seats. After a 30min drive, they were transferred onto a blue bus instead. In that bus, there were three policemen in blue uniform and one in civilian clothes as well as a total of 90 to 100 other people.The respondent describes that the bus had metal bars in it. This bus took them to a detention site at the border. It consisted of several small rooms and one big cell. There were several police officers present, some uniformed and some in civilian clothes. The whole group was ordered to undress and the officers proceeded to beat them, mostly with sticks and sometimes with hands. The respondent then had to stay in this big cell for one hour. By now, it was night. The officers then returned some of the clothes: boxers, T- Shirts and shoes without strings. The respondent was then told to get into a white car together with around 20 other people, all men from Morocco and Syria. Two officers were with the group as well. When they stopped at the Evros river, there were six or seven officers. Three of them were wearing green camouflage clothes, the others had blue uniforms. There were also two Syrians that were driving the boat to Turkey. The respondent explains that these Syrians have to do this work and in exchange receive a white card, food and a phone and then a paper that allows them to continue their journey later. He explains that he knows this because one of his friends had disappeared for a month and a half after crossing the border. The respondent believed his friend to have died but then he contacted him and explained that he had worked for the Greek police, afterwards travelled to the northern borders and is now in Bosnia.

The respondent had to get into the plastic dinghy with five others and the Syrians drove them to the Turkish side. After walking for a while, they found a hospital. It was in Meric. The respondent wanted to get treatment but there was a police station closeby and several Turkish police officers came and caught them. They detained them for three days. On the first day, they did not receive any food, afterwards they did. On the third day they were released and returned to Istanbul. 

The respondent still had injuries that were still bleeding when the testimony was taken four days after the pushback.

Throughout the interview, the respondent kept saying: “They don’t have the right to send me back”