Greek Government Accused of Deporting Turkish Asylum Seekers

Via The New York Times – The Greek government denies that account, by the Hellenic League for Human Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights, which say that twice in the last few weeks, on May 24 and June 2, Turks fleeing persecution have been shipped back to their country.

The Hellenic League documented a total of 17 forcible deportations, or pushbacks, including those of seven children.

The pushbacks followed a pattern, according to the league. The Greek police drove the asylum seekers in a van to a meeting point where they were handed over to masked armed men. These men then forced the refugees onto a boat that was sent across the Evros River to Turkey.

Similar episodes have long been reported along the border but were not thought to have systematically singled out Turks.

According to figures the Greek government issued on Thursday, more than 200 Turks have been allowed to seek asylum in Greece after crossing the Evros since the start of the year. But rights activists are concerned that the government may now be focused on sending back Turkish asylum seekers. “We have a change in pattern here,” Kleio Papapantoleon, the head of the Hellenic League, said in an interview.

“What I think this is is an attempt to override the judicial system through refoulement,” she said, using the legal term for forcible deportation. “I don’t know if it’s a deal under the table or if it’s a pattern that the Greek government is developing to show to the Turkish government that it’s O.K., we will help you.”

Asked about the reports, a Greek government spokesman said on Thursday that “no refoulement has ever been either executed or authorized by the Greek authorities.” He added, “Any allegations implying something different are always investigated.”

Read the full article at The New York Times