Turkish University student drowned in Evros river | 3 Turkish citizens arrested while attempted to cross to Greece | Numbers on border crossings, interceptions and arrests | Turkey’s military operation ‘mavi vatan’ | A new March of Hope in Northern Greece
Developments at the Greek-Turkish Border
A 21-year old Turkish student, Maher Mete Kul, died on the 24 March after he tried to cross the Evros river between Greece and Turkey, in an attempt to flee the country and seek asylum. Kul had spend 10 months in prison on charges of membership in a leftist group, Liseli Dev-Genç (High School Revolutionary Youth). With a travel ban on his passport, the clandestine and dangerous route crossing the river border remained his only chance to leave the country. His mother had fled to Greece five months ago.
Despite the cold weather and poor conditions at sea, increasing number of refugees who left Turkey could reach to Greece. Ekathimerini reported the arrivals in Cyrpus and Evros subsequently. With the higher number of arrivals from Turkey to Cyprus, an apparent shift was addressed from recent arrivals that came from Lebanon. Moreover, an increase at the arrivals through Evros was identified both in comparison to last year and concerning the higher number of Turkish nationals seeking asylum.
On 8th of January, Ekathimerini reported that a total of 31 Syrian refugees managed to reach Cyprus on early morning, despite very cold weather and poor conditions at sea.
Human Rights Watch published a report on 18th of December (see the full report in English, Turkish or Greek) regarding the violent push-backs commited by Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region. While the officers in some cases were said to use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings, HRW urged the Greek authorities to cease summary returns to Turkey, investigate abuses, and hold those responsible to account.
“All those interviewed said they were transported to the border with Turkey in groups of 60 to 80, in military trucks or unmarked vans. In all but three cases, the agents wore face masks, black pants, or camouflage, making it impossible to recognize or identify them. In the three other cases, interviewees said police in regular blue and camouflage uniforms transported them to the river. Ten out of 26 interviewees said they were physically abused or witnessed others being ill-treated during the pushback operation.”
Along with a press release the Greek Council for Refugees , the Association for the Social Support of Youth, and HumanRights360 published a report about the continuous push-backs of third country nationals on the Evros river.
Via Daily Sabah* – The controversial and illegal practice of “pushback,” forcibly sending illegal migrants to countries they arrived from, is in the spotlight once again after the bodies of three migrants were found near the Turkish border. Greece is accused of sending back the migrants after stripping them of their clothes in freezing temperatures. Minister for Citizen Protection, Olga Gerovasili, whose ministry oversees border security, denied the allegation and told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Greece is not involved in such incidents. Yet, figures provided to AA by Turkish security sources show many illegal migrants were forced to go back to Turkey by Greek officials; some 2,490 migrants were “pushed back” in November alone.
The bodies of three people thought to be irregular migrants have been found in separate border villages in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province, security sources said Tuesday.
The body of one migrant — thought to be of Afghan origin — was found in the village of Serem, while the bodies of two more migrants were found in the villages of Akçadam and Adasarhanlı, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The Greek group ‘Racist Crime Watch‘ published new evidence of police violence and illegal push-backs of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey via the Evros river. In a letter to the Commissional for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatović, they address these mistreatments:
Another video evidence of police violence and illegal deportation of asylum seekers in Evros
Further to our 9 and 29 September 2018 letters, we are sending another update with information published in Hurriyet Daily News and reprinted (without editing) here.
Via Hurriyet Daily News (13th November) – Turkish villagers warmly welcome migrants after Greek police beat them naked
Residents of the Kiremitçi Salih village in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne warmly welcomed a group of migrants they found naked and exhausted in their fields late Nov. 11.
Via The Guardian – Two women and a girl believed to be migrants have been found dead with their throats slashed near Greece’s north-eastern border with Turkey, Greek authorities said.
The victims appeared to be of North African, Middle Eastern or Asian origin, but their nationalities and identities were unknown, police said. An initial examination of the bodies suggested the three were killed about four days earlier, coroner Pavlos Pavlidis said on Wednesday.
Linda, a 19-year-old Syrian and registered refugee, had just crossed from Turkey into Greece at the Evros River when men carrying guns appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. She wasn’t sure if they were police officers or soldiers, but they emerged from behind trees and wore dark uniforms that helped them blend into the night.
It was mid-May, and several hours earlier Linda had boarded a mini-bus in Istanbul with around 35 other people, including children and a pregnant woman, eager to enter European Union territory. The trip had been organised by smugglers, and the passengers ended up in a remote area close to the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne. At around three in the morning they boarded small boats that ferried them across the river. Continue reading An open secret: Refugee pushbacks across the Turkey-Greece border→