On Tuesday morning, 31 August, a boat carrying 23 people landed south west of Tarti. Immediately after arriving they fled to the woods, hiding from the Greek police, scared that they would be found and returned to Turkey.
At 07.20 they contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, they asked for help, so that they wouldn’t be illegally deported. UNHCR on Lesvos was informed on their arrival and location, but as usual they do not do anything to protect vulnerable people arriving on our doorstep.
This should of course be unnecessary in a European country in 2021, but not in Greece, in Greece pushbacks is the rule, not the exception. Since March 2020 the Greek government has illegally deported 17.500 people in the Aegean Sea, men, women and children trying to seek asylum in Europe.
The new arrivals provided pictures, videos and location data, there was no doubt that the group had arrived on Lesvos. Aegean Boat Report maintained contact with the group throughout the day, and tried to persuade them to move towards populated areas, but people was scared, and felt safer hiding in the woods.
In the afternoon the group had split into three groups, 12, 7 and 4 people. The group of 12 moved towards Evaggelistria, while the remaining two groups stayed behind. Two of the groups reported that there was drones above them, most likely drones used by port police to locate them.
In the afternoon we lost contact with the group of 7, we suspected that police had found them, but they also could have run out of battery on their phone, we couldn’t know for sure.
The group of 12 we maintain contact with until 02.27 September 1, the last sign of life was a location sent over whatsapp on the road a few kilometers east of Evaggelistria, there was no text, connection was lost. Had they been found by police, impossible to say, but highly possible. We tried throughout the night to reconnect with the groups, unsuccessfully, neither of the phones have been online since.
The third group of 4 people we didn’t manage to reconnect with after the group split up, we suspect that their phones was out of battery, these phones haven’t been online since either.
In the coming days we tried to figure out what happened to the 23 people who arrived on Lesvos south on August 31. No arrivals was registered on Lesvos, not this day nor the following day’s, there could only be one explanation, they had been pushed back.
At 20.35, August 31, the Turkish coast guard(TCG) reported that they had rescued and picked up 7 people from a life raft drifting north of Foça, Turkey.
From pictures and video published by TCG from the incident we have identified all 7 to be from the landing on Lesvos south. The Hellenic coast guard had taken away all their belongings, bags, phones, and even their shoes before they abandoned them drifting at sea.
Just after noon on September 1, Turkish coast guard found and rescued 12 people from a life raft drifting north west of Dikili, Turkey.
From the footage published by TCG we were able to positively identify 9 of the 12 people from the landing on Lesvos south on 31 August. This group had also had their belongings stolen by the Greek coast guard, and for some reason also their shoes.
For a while we believed that perhaps a few of them had managed to stay behind, hiding in the woods on Lesvos, but in the morning of 2 September, we realized that they had removed them all.
At 08.57, 2 September, the Turkish coast guard(TCG) reported that they had rescued and picked up 4 people from a life raft drifting north west of Dikili, Turkey.
Also in this last case we have positively identified all 4 as the same people who arrived on Lesvos south on 31 August. As we can see from the footage they were found without any belongings, no bags, no phones, and again without shoes, everything had been stolen by the Greek coast guard before they threw them in a life raft.
Also in the video from September 2, published by TCG, we can see a vessel identified as a Cantiere Navale Vittoria (CNV) P355GR coastal patrol vessel, belonging to the Greek cast guard, abandoning a life raft with 4 people in the Aegean Sea, south east of Lesvos.
The evidence speaks for itself, there is, and have never been, any doubt on who is responsible for these authorities.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Greek Minister of Migration and AsylumNotis Mitarachi, has on international TV denied all involvement in pushback in the Aegean Sea on several occasions. Where they blatantly lying, yes definitely, they should be removed from office and charged for crimes against humanity.
We have seen vessels from the Hellenic coast guard attacking flimsy rubber boats at sea, shooting towards them, ramming them, towing rubber boats and life rafts towards Turkish waters, people being forced back into rubber boats and life rafts at sea from Greek coast guard vessels, hundreds of testimonies from people who have been violated, thousands of pictures and videos.
Rarely have a case been so thoroughly documented, proven without doubt through open source investigations, reports in the international press, humanitarian organizations and NGO’s, hundreds of different actors all point in the same direction, so why don’t Europe sanction Greece for these crimes against humanity, when there is no longer any doubt that they are responsible?
The answer is quite simple, and it gives me the creeps, WE DON`T CARE what happens to them, as long as we can continue our comfortable lives. We are willing to close our eyes, look the other way, because we simply DON`T CARE, if we had, we would have stopped this a long time ago.
Violations of international laws and human rights unfortunately happens every day in Greece, on orders from the Greek government. While the rights of men women and children, seeking protection in Europe are violated, the rest of Europe is looking the other way, pretending nothing is happening.
The unwillingness by European politicians to act and stop these atrocities is a mockery of humanity.