Another Documented Pushback!

On the morning of December 5th a boat carrying 31 people was in distress south east of Leros, this was posted about the incident that day on Aegean Boat Report:

“A boat carrying approximately 31 people is in distress south east of Leros. The boat has been drifting for at least 5 hours, and need immediate rescue. Port police on Leros has been informed, all necessary information have been given to initiate a rescue operation. There are many small children on the boat. Update : ABR have received information that they have managed to reach land, and are currently on the north tip of Kalymnos.”

Port police on Kalymnos was alerted, and witnesses on Leros observed boats from the Hellenic coast guard moving back and forth in the area. Nothing was reported to be found, officially. ABR had no further contact with the new arrivals that day.

Sunday morning a location and a voice message was sent to Aegean Boat Report, “ hello we are on the island of kalimnos please come and help us we have, we are very afraid we have no shelter even water” The location was up in the hills south west on Kalymnos, Again port police on Kalymnos was informed, and Aegean Boat Report did not have further contact that they, and the number have been disconnected since then.

Official registration on new arrivals show that only 3 people was registered on Kalymnos on Sunday December 6th, nothing the day before and nothing after, question is, where did the remaining 28 people go, if not found by Hellenic coast guard or police on Kalymnos?

The answer came yesterday, when Aegean Boat Report received three videos from a woman claiming to have been on the island of Kalymnos, but was returned to Turkey in a life raft, showing 1) over 30 people on land on Kalymnos, the location in the video matches the typography for the area where the initial location was received the day before, 2) people in a life raft and a vessel from Hellenic coast guard( identified as a Lambro-57 Panther Mk.I patrol boat belonging to the Hellenic Coast guard), 3) a video filmed inside the life raft, only women and children.

The video of the people that Aegean Boat Report received the day before of people in a rubber boat heading towards Kalymnos, matches the people in the videos on land on Kalymnos and in the life raft, there is no doubt that it’s the same people.

A testimony from one of the people from the landing on Kalymnos, now in Aydin, Turkey, describes what happened to them: “we walked for a very long time, it was very difficult, but some people found us and gave us bread, oranges and apples. After a while two other men came, and told us to give them papers and phones, we did, but not all of us, some managed to hide theirs. They said they would take us to camp, so we went with them, but they took us to a port, and put us in a gray and white Boat. Her they separated us, all men in the front, and all women and children in the back, outside. After a while they stopped and told us to go in to this orange strange boat, they took all women and children in two of these boats, the children was screaming, we was so afraid. I don’t know what happened, the men refused to go in to these boats, and the Greek boat left with the men onboard, 11 men. The boat they put us in lost air, but Turkish coast guard found us before it was to late, and took us to Aydin”

Report from Turkish coast guard:At 18.50 A fishing boat found 17 people, women and children, in a semi submerged life raft outside Didim, Turkey, none of them had life jackets. People onboard claimed that they had been placed there by the Greek coast guard.

Two days later, on December 8th at 21.00, 11 people, men, was picked up from two life rafts drifting outside Yalıkavak, Bodrum, also claiming to have been on the island of Kalymnos for several days.

It’s beyond any doubt that what is going on in the Aegean Sea is a crime against humanity, performed by the Hellenic coast guard, on orders from the Greek government. It’s proven without a doubt, in several investigations, that the Hellenic coast guard is behind these illegal pushbacks, but still the Greek government keeps denying any involvement in these atrocities. Why they decided to illegally deported all but 3 people from this landing is unknown, and can only be answered by the port police on Kalymnos.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the Greek Minister for Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has been denying any involvement in illegal deportation of asylum seekers on the Greek border, “The Hellenic coast guard operates based on international law and international legality, based on the rules of engagement at sea, and,.. with complete respect for human dignity and of course for human life, We fully abide by international and European law”. Mr. Mitsotakis say, when asked directly about these allegations, “It has not happened, we’ve been the victims of a significant misinformation campaign”, referring to articles and investigation in international press.

Aegean Boat Report has documented hundreds of illegal pushbacks since March, documenting and publishing such information has not gone unnoticed by the Greek government. In cooperation wit international press, information from Aegean Boat Report have made headlines all over Europe, highlighting the illegal activities of the Greek government. By doing so Aegean Boat Report became a victim of a deliberate misleading attack yesterday when the Greek minister of immigration and asylum, Notis Mitarachi, made false and unfounded accusations, in an attempt to discredit Aegean Boat Report.

As I have stated in the past, Aegean Boat Report will not be intimidated to keep quiet, like many other organizations has done, and will continue to reveal human rights violations in the Aegean Sea as long as it’s necessary!

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