“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
  • Pushback from: Greece
  • Pushback 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?: Unknown
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent arrived in Thessaloniki in September and received a “Khartia” (police note, a document regularizing a personal stay for a limited period of time) . He was alone in a park around the train station of Thessaloniki on October 13 when he was apprehended by four or five police officers with dark blue uniforms. They approached him with motorbikes and a car and asked him for his documents. He showed them his police note, which the officers confiscated. After that the officers told him to take off his clothes and hit him.

Then the respondent was taken with a white patrol car to a nearby police station where he was hit again before being transferred to a police station uphill.

At this police station, he was put into a cell with 10 other men. The respondent was kept in this place for two days and received food and water during his stay. He was told, he would get back his “khartia” and be released. To one of the other men the police actually returned his documents and let him go.

Evetually, during day time on October 15, all the remaining men were moved from the police station with a white van with seats. After a 30-minutes-drive, they were changing the vehicle to a big blue bus with metal bars in it. The desription matches the busses of the Hellenic police (ελλινική αστυνομία). Inside, there were three policemen in blue uniform and one officer in civilian clothes with a total of 90 to 100 other people. The group was taken to a detention site at the border.

This detention site consisted of a few small rooms and one big cell. There were several police officers present, both uniformed and in civilian clothes. The respondent’s group was ordered to undress and the officers started beating them using sticks and their hands. They then had to stay in this big cell for one hour.

After nightfall the officers returned some of the clothes: boxers, T- Shirts and shoes without laces. The respondent, along with approximately 20 other men from Morocco and Syria, was loaded into a white van and driven to the Evros river. There were two officers in the van escorting them and another six or seven officers waiting for them at the Evros river. Three of them were wearing green camouflage clothes, the others had blue uniforms.

There, the respondent had to enter a plastic dinghy with five other people. Two Syrians drove the boat to the Turkish side.

The respondent stated that a friend of his had done the work of the two Syrians before in exchange for a white card, a phone, food, and a paper that allowed him to continue his journey further.

On the Turkish side they walked to Meric, where they found a hospital. The respondent wanted to get treatment but was apprehended by Turkish police officers. The respondent’s group was detained for three days there, the first of which they were denied food or water. After three days, the group was 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”