“When I talk about my story it makes me so sad because I have to remember”

  • Date and time: September 15, 2020 22:00
  • Location: Feres, Greece
  • Coordinates: 40.895113, 26.249899
  • Push-back from: Greece
  • Push-back to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 90 person(s), age: 31 , from: Syria, Algeria
  • Minors involved? Yes
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), insulting, water immersion, theft of personal belongings
  • Police involved: 2 Greek police officers at initial arrest, several more Greek police officers at police stations
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, papers signed, no translator present, denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent is a 31-year-old man from Algeria. On the evening of the 12th September,  he was with a male friend, 30 years old and also Algerian,  walking besides the sea close to the port of Thessaloniki. Between 12 pm and 1 am on 13th September they were stopped by two Ο.Π.Κ.Ε Greek police officers on a motorbike. The police officers immediately started using physical violence towards them and afterwards they had to walk to a “secret place”. For the journey  the respondent had to put his hands on the shoulders of his friend.

This “secret place” is described by the respondent as a dark place outside, surrounded by trees and close to the White Tower. There they found another two men from Algeria and shortly after another two men (unknown nationality) were brought to that same place where there were now 6 people-on-the-move and 12 or 13 police officers wearing police uniforms. There the police continued beating them using batons and kicking them for about 10 minutes. After that they were handcuffed before a police car arrived with which they were taken to a police station in the upper part of the city. It is not clear exactly, which police station they were brought to, but according to the respondent the journey from that place close to the white tower was about 20 minutes long and they drove uphill, which together with the fact that they were brought the next day to Megalo, leads to the assumption, that he was brought to the Sykies police department. When asking for the reason for his arrest, the respondent was told that it is because he didn’t have papers.

At this police station, two of his group were released because they had papers, the rest of them were slapped and beaten again with sticks, insulted in Greek and denied food or water. They had to ask for permission to go to the toilet. In the morning of the same day at 7:30 am two more of his group were taken away (their whereabouts are unknown) before the respondent and his friend were transferred to Thessaloniki police headquarters at 8 am with an ordinary police car.

At police headquarters, the police first checked their pockets and clothes which they had to take off. They gave them back their clothes afterwards but kept their phones and bags. They then took fingerprints of the respondent as well as pictures and he also had to sign Greek documents without any translation provided. In total the respondent stayed for 28 hours at police headquarters, and during that time only received one meal and a small bottle of water (0,5l).

On the next day, the 14th September at 12am the police zip-tied the hands of the respondent’s group which now consisted of 10 people, 5-6 Syrians, the respondent and his friend from Algeria and another 2-3 people with unknown nationality. His group was then put in the back of a green Mercedes van without windows or seats. With that van they were driving 35 minutes to another police station (the location of this police station is unknown). Once there, their money was taken from them, their bags, which were taken from them back in police headquarters, were handed over by the police to the driver of the Mercedes, who is described as a unknown Greek speaking person  in civil clothes, and the respondent’s group themselves were transferred to a ‘big blue bus’, which indicates the use of a police bus.

In that big blue bus, which is divided in 12 small cells in the back, they were waiting for more people until the bus was almost full. In total they were then 30-35 people guarded by civil police (number of police officers in the bus is unknown). With this bus they drove to another police station (not signs of police but uniformed police officers there) close to Komothini which was however not really an actual police station but a temporary building made of plastic and metal as described by the respondent. He was put together with 75 people in a room of approximately 8 × 12 metres and had to stay there for 24 hours. There were other rooms similarly crowded at this police station. Due to the bad isolation of the ‘building’ it got extremely hot during the day and very cold in the night. Again they were refused water or food. They had access to a toilet, from where they also drank water, yet it was very dirty according to the respondent.

“The toilet was so dirty and you have to drink water from there”

The police used violence in this station only against three people because they asked for their money. From this room in the night 25 people were taken away with a white van with no police insignia on it (their whereabouts are unknown).

On the next day, our respondent himself was put into the back of a white van with another 25 people and was taken from there to Feres. This was probably not an official police station in Feres as there were no police signs or logos. His group found another 50 people there including children and women. This station again is described as ‘so dirty’ by the respondent. Their guards (supposedly police), who were wearing balaclavas, also beat some people there. The same guards confiscated their clothes and shoes and they were left only with a t-shirt and boxers.

In the night they were in a group of 90 people including women and children taken to the Evros river close to Feres in a big truck and there separated into groups of 12 people each. At that point, two people of his group were beaten by the before mentioned men in balaclavas.

“They were taken off their clothes and they beat them a lot, badly, so badly”

When they reached the river around 10 pm they had to get on dinghies group by group and finally reached the Turkish side. The dinghies were driven by four people, one from Syria, two from Pakistan and one white man who was only talking English. The fact that the dinghies are not driven by Greek authorities or not even by Greek people has been witnessed already in other reports. https://www.borderviolence.eu/violence-reports/october-4-2020-1800-7-km-from-edirne/

On the Turkish side they were helped by the Turkish army and got to Ipsala which was 20km away from the point where they reached the Turkish side.