Our Press Statement Regarding The Baseless Claims of Greece
Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi whose country is frequently on the agenda with inhuman treatments against migrants is once again conducting perception management tactics by using the photos of stripped naked migrants for which there is no location, nor any date provided.
We are well aware of the despair Greece is facing in the international arena following the speech of our President H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan given at the UN General Assembly depicting the inhuman treatments of Greece at plain sight to the attention of the global public.
It is very apparent that Greece is trying to cover up the systematic unlawful pushbacks they have been doing routinely by confiscating all the belongings of the migrants including their money, phone, ID and passports, throwing them into the sea, by taking all their clothing and shoes, battering them naked with batons, injuring them with electro-shock devices, shooting at them with rubber bullets or putting them on worn-out lifeboats.
For years now this inhuman treatment and actions by Greece have been exhibited vis-à-vis the eyes of the whole world with images and international reports depicting punctured boats, their engines removed, migrants who have been battered and even shot at with the aim to kill. Just last month they punctured the boat of a group of migrants including babies and infants who were trying to reach Italy from Lebanon. Having lost all their valuables, these people were left to death. The 9-month-old Asım and his 4 years-old brother Abdülvahap lost their lives as a result of this inhuman treatment.
Now, Greece that fails to even provide an explanation for these actions of inhuman treatment in the global arena is trying to put the blame on Türkiye through slander and defamation. Just like they have associated themselves with murder this time, the Greek government is also associating themselves with lies and slander.
Although there has been intense pressure on Greece in the international arena with respect to their actions, Greece has not taken a step back and continues to violate human rights embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention. There have been violations of the right to life and ban on torture and inhuman treatment specifically among which were the use of force including violence and inhuman treatment exerted on all migrants with no discrimination even for women or children, confiscation of clothes and money of migrants seeking entry into their country and confiscation of their valuables in an unlawful manner. All of the foregoing actions are against the international law.
After the report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) shared by many international agencies and media organs has openly highlighted that “senior staff at EU border agency Frontex, were involved in major abuses and irregularities, covering up the pushbacks [of migrants] to Türkiye, not duly investigating them and assessing the problem in a correct and sound manner; and also sharing incorrect and sided information with the EU institutions”, we cannot deem as a coincidence the fraudulent information provided by the Greek Minister to cover up this report and the violations committed by his country at the land and sea borders.
Within this context, we underline that the fact that the Greek Minister for Migration and Asylum still holds his office and continues his baseless allegations against our country, whereas the Executive Director of FRONTEX was discharged from his position during the investigations and supervisions on the pushbacks, is unacceptable and we leave this to the discretion of the public opinion.
As a result of the pushbacks of Greece, a total of 61737 migrants, of which 46840 were in the Aegean Sea and were immigrants at the Greek land border, have been subject to pushbacks since 2020. 152 migrants lost their lives as a result of these pushbacks and 200 were injured. When looking at the 2022 figures, we see that a total of 26363 migrants, of which 21770 were in the Aegean Sea and 4593 were at the Greek land border, have been subject to pushbacks. 59 migrants lost their lives as a result of push-backs, namely 21 in the Aegean Sea and 38 at the Greek land border. Besides, 54 migrants were injured due to the pushbacks, 5 in the Aegean Sea and 49 at the Greek land border.
We call upon Greece that has yet to account for the drowned babies in the Aegean Sea to end the inhuman treatments against migrants and the migration policy that results in deaths.
Furthermore, as a country, which has upheld international rules even for irregular migrants with no discrimination and conducted a humanitarian approach regarding migration policy, we solemnly deny the use of the name Türkiye together with Greece that has been closely followed by the whole world for years with their inhuman treatments towards migrants.
We also attach just only some cases of inhumane treatments, which Greece has been conducting for years, to the public attention.
On 24 September 2022, 15 irregular immigrants including 7 children, 8 adults were rescued from the sea by Turkish Coast Guard Command in the Ayvacık district of Çanakkale province. The 6 dead bodies of irregular migrants, including 4 children, 2 adults, were recovered. Based on initial information received by migrants, The Greek Coast Guard blew up rubber boat and pushed migrant back to a closer point to Turkish territorial waters. The rubber boat was flooded and sank.
On 13 September 2022, 66 irregular migrants, attempting to cross to Italy from Lebanon and pushed back by Greece, were rescued in 3 life rafts in total. Moreover, 7 more irregular migrants holding on to the semi-submerged life raft were rescued upon report of another life raft and the dead bodies of 6 irregular migrants in total including 2 babies, 3 children and 1 woman were found around the life raft.
On 2 February 2022, the dead bodies of 19 irregular migrants pushed back by the Greek elements and froze to death were found in the Mandakoru of the Paşaköy Village of İpsala District.
On 3 February 2022, 5 irregular migrants were detected in Sazlık region. They had been pushed back by Greek Coast Guard from Sisam Island of Aegean Sea. In joint operation with Turkish Coast Guard, they were rescued. The migrants accounted that they were taken up by Greek police in a small vehicle and brought to the Marine; and then the migrants were taken to the sea and brought to the Turkish waters in a boat. The migrants expressed that the Greek officials beat and abandoned them into the sea, then left the scenery quickly. In the first physical examinations, the migrants were detected to have been seriously battered, which was clearly observed.
On 23 February 2021, 7 irregular migrants from Syria, 4 from Egypt, 5 from India, 2 from Pakistan, 2 from Iraq, 1 from Afghanistan and 1 from Iran 22 irregular migrants, in total and also on 24 February 2021 16 Syrian, 4 Afghanistan, 5 Pakistani, 1 Yemeni, 1 Moroccan and 2 Tunisian, 29 irregular migrants in total were firstly battered and abandoned on the islet in the middle of the Evros River by Greek security forces. In both cases, the migrants' phones and belongings were confiscated and they were subject to violence and ill-treatment. In the two events, the migrants waiting desperately on the islet were taken to the Turkish side by the authorized personnel in order to rescue the victims and meet their needs as required by virtue of the human dignity.
On 20 October 2021, 11 persons were identified on the rocks in the reeds bay by the Kuşadası Coast Guard Command officers and in the first interviews held here, they accounted to have been left there following the pushback by the Greek Coast Guard and they were forced to get on rubber boat by the Greek police, who confiscated their belongings and compelled them to sail into the sea. Fuel inside the boat caused some migrants to get burnt.
On 18 May 2021, interviews with Iraqi national who was taken over at the Greece-Turkey border and delivered to Edirne Provincial Directorate of Migration Management, indicated that the Iraqi national was exposed to various acts of violence by the alleged Greek law enforcement officers. It was understood that he was pushed back to Türkiye
On 08 December 2020 at 20.15, Coast Guard Command authorities of Türkiye arrived at the scene after a group of irregular migrants demanded help off Tekağaç Cape. 11 irregular migrants (7 Central African nationals, 2 Congo nationals, 2 Cameroon nationals), who were identified and rescued in 2 life rafts, had been beaten and pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard.