Greek coastguards pushed boat carrying 26 people back to Turkey

The Watch The Med Alarmphone reports about a pushback from Greek waters to Turkey, which took place in the early morning hours of Friday, 21th July:

“On Friday the 21st of July 2017, at 5.03am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 26 travellers, amongst them 2 children and a pregnant woman..The contact person forwarded us the position of the travellers, showing that they had reached Greek territorial waters. At 5.30am we called the Greek coastguards and passed on the information. We tried to reach the travellers many times, but it was not possible to establish direct contact. At 5.54am the contact person informed us that the Greek coastguards were trying to return the boat to Turkey, and forwarded us a video that showed the boat of the coastguards circling around the travellers, creating waves which resulted in water entering the boat. We called the Greek coastguards again to protest these actions and to stress the urgency for rescue, but the officer just confirmed that the travellers were going back to Turkey. At 7.05am the contact person informed us that the travellers were with the Turkish police.

The next day we managed to establish contact to the travellers via WhatsApp, and they confirmed the pushback by the Greek coastguards. They reported that the coastguards had been very offensive by creating big waves that caused their boat to rock left and right. On the coastguard vessel, men were wearing black and carrying weapons. Water started coming into the boat and the passengers started panicking. Although they pleaded with the Greek coastguards, declaring that they had a sick child with a chronic condition with them who needed medical treatment, the Greek coastguards refused and insisted on sending them back to Turkey. Fearing for their lives and those of the children they had on board, including a paralyzed child and an 8-months-old baby, they went back to the Turkish coast where the Turkish police showed up to pick them up. Apart from the boat of the Greek coastguards, the travellers informed us that another boat with a Greek, French, Croatian and German flag painted on it was present during the pushback without intervening. After the travellers had been pushed back, they were arrested by the Turkish police.”