Greece pushes humanity back in Aegean
Some 73 irregular migrants pushed back by Greek forces off the coast of the province of Muğla on Türkiye's Aegean coast were rescued by the Turkish coast guard. Unfortunately, the bodies of six immigrants, two babies, three children and one woman, were also found. The search continues for five other irregular migrants, two of whom are babies, at sea.
Is this short new report enough to visualize the tragedy? Please try to imagine the rush in the makeshift boat in the middle of the deserted sea. Imagine the soldiers on the armed Greek boats trying to sink the boats containing babies, women and old people with spiked sticks. Worse still, this scandal is not the only example that goes against humanity, international law and maritime rules that oblige those in need. Greece is committing this crime systematically.
The statements of six asylum-seekers who witnessed pushbacks in a joint report published as a result of the research of The Guardian, Lighthouse Reports, Le Monde, ARD Report München and Der Spiegel show that Greece exaggerates this issue.
In the report, the asylum-seekers say that the police robbed, took away their belongings and insulted irregular migrants before pushing them back to Türkiye in overcrowded inflatable boats.
It was stated in an Anadolu Agency (AA) article that: “A Syrian refugee, who stated that he spent three months at the Tychero police station near the Greek border with Türkiye, said that when he crossed the Maritsa (Meriç) River to seek asylum, the police beat and robbed the irregular migrant group, including himself, and imprisoned them in crowded cells.
According to the Syrian refugee's statement, after it was understood that he could speak English, he was promised a one-month residence permit on the condition that he stay in the cell during the day and help with the pushbacks at night. The asylum-seeker, who was threatened with being imprisoned for human smuggling if he did not accept the offer, was told that he would not be paid for this duty but that he could confiscate the belongings of the refugees who were pushed back."
In fact, in the case of 11 people, including children and infants, who drowned in the Aegean Sea as a result of the Greek security forces pushing back a boat carrying immigrants, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled out that Greece violated Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court ruled that the behavior of the Greek security forces violated the right to life of immigrants and the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and fined 330,000 euros ($330,028).
Following the ECtHR's decision, Greece has to reopen the case and punish those responsible. And it is clear that this case will set an important precedent regarding the pushbacks in the Aegean region and the Meriç River. However, despite all the complaints, concrete evidence including video footage and court decisions.
Greece still does not address these inhumane practices. When will the media, all human rights organizations in Europe and responsible citizens raise their voices against Greece, which commits murders every day in the Aegean?
Melih Altonk’s article for DailySabah. Published on 15th September 2022