On Tuesday March 8, a boat carrying 20 Palestinians from Gaza, 10 men, 3 women and 7 children, landed on the south east shores of Chios, not far from Nenita.
After arriving they fled to the woods in the surrounding areas, in fear of being found and arrested by Greek police. The group remained in the area for a while, the feet of the small children couldn’t move very fast, the dark made it even more challenging.
At 05.00 people from the group made contact with Aegean Boat Report, they asked for assistance., “hello, we are on the island of Chios, we want to apply for asylum, we are all Palestinians from Gaza, we have many children, please help us”.
In the next hours we received pictures, videos and location data, documenting their presence on Chios, small children, tiered and soaking wet from the rain, shivering from the cold, sitting straight on the ground.
We followed the group´s movements on Live location on whatsapp, slowly moving north. At 07.30 we received a message from the group, “police are chasing us, please help us, we have small children, we are afraid”.
Their location showed that they were in the outskirts of Nenita, a short message was sent, “ police caught us, we are afraid”.
People were rounded up, but a group of six young men managed to get away, and moved quickly from the area, heading west. Police were chasing them, but gave up after a short while. Aegean Boat Report got a short message from them 07.40, “many of us were arrested, all the children, we managed to run away, they will be returned, please help”. 20 minutes later we lost contact with the group of six, and didn’t hear from them anymore, perhaps they ran out of power on their phone.
14 people were arrested by police south of Nenita, police told them to wait, and they would be transported to the camp for registration and asylum procedures, this would later prove to not be the case.
The six that managed to get away from the police, later arrived by their own means at the refugee camp in Halkios, and transported to the quarantine facility in Lefkonia.
For some reason police didn’t take their phones away, perhaps the officers arresting them indeed believed that they actually would be taken to camp, especially considering the many small children, and that the order later was changed by their commander.
Aegean Boat Report received a new message on whatsapp, “we are now with the police, they caught us, we hope they will not return us again, we are so afraid, we are now in a bus, we do not know where they will take us, perhaps return us, they have done that four times before”. We received a picture from inside the bus, all we could recognize was the clothes of one of the children.
Aegean Boat Report followed their movement on whatsapp Live location, while the bus moved through Nenita and Kallimasia towards Chios city center, the bus eventually stoped at an industrial site at the seafront close to city of Chios.
At 09.00 we received two videos, one showing the inside of the bus, the second perhaps a bit more interesting, we can clearly see the outside of the bus, but perhaps even more interesting, a man in dark clothes can be seen standing outside the bus, talking with the bus driver, while wearing a balaclava. This indicates that the man with the face covered knows the bus driver, and is indeed from local police. Locals on Chios can easily identify the area where these videos were taken.
What can be heard on the video from the conversation seems trivial enough, “longline prepared and you can pull it the shore.. you need a strong hand..”, this could of course be about fishing, but could also be related to what happened later on, most of the conversation was not caught on film.
Police brought an additional 12 people onboard the bus in handcuffs, all with African descent. We later learned that these 12 were a part of a boat arriving the day before, Monday March 7 on Chios south east, close to Nenita, carrying at least 25 people. The remaining 13 from this arrival was, according to sources, registered in the quarantine facility in Lefkonia.
Aegean Boat Report later received three voice messages that was recorded on a phone inside the bus. There was a lot of shouting, but some can be clearly heard from the sound files, a man telling people to sit down in their set’s in English, he’s counting up to 32 in Greek, and callling another man by the name Chrisstos, last message “look at that look at that, right next to the car/phone, under our ?- malaka” it’s actually very difficult to understand what he is talking about, perhaps it’s about a phone, difficult to say. But one word is very easy to understand, “malaka”, in this setting and tone it’s most likely used as an insult towards one of the refugees, “asshole”, “wanker“, “impotent“, “stupid‘, “idiot‘, “sucker“, nothing nice at least, and show what this man thinks of these people.
At least 45 people arrived on Chios between March 7-8 on two landings, 19 of those were registered in the quarantine facility in Lefkonia, 26 was illegally deported by the Greek authorities in a rubber boat without an engine, helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea, another illegal refoulement performed by the Greek coast guard.
This case has also been featured in Astraparis, the local online news on Chios the last three days. Todays article sends a direct question to the Greek minister of imigration and asylum, Notis Mitarakis, “Where are these children?“
The Greek newspaper EFSYN have been in contact with one of the Palestinian families, now in Turkey, who fell victim to this illigal refoulement performed by the Greek authorities, and published an article today.
At 13.15, March 8, the Turkish coast guard found and rescued 26 people from a rubber boat drifting outside Cesme, Turkey.
Registration in Turkey shows that 14 Palestinians, 10 Liberians, 1 Yemenis and 1 Gambian was rescued in this incident.
From pictures and videos received while this group was on Chios, we can easily identify the same people, especially the Palestinian children, from the footage provided by the Turkish coast guard. There is absolutely no doubt what happened here, and who is responsible.
This isn’t the first time this Palestinian family have tried to cross into Greece, they have tried five times, three times they have actualy managed to reache land, every single time they have been removed. Their last attempt was on February 17, they were arrested by Greek police after their arrival and removed from Chios, forced into two life raft and left drifting in the Aegean Sea in the middle of the night.
And on December 23, 2021, they managed to reach land on Chios, police arrested them, forced them back to sea and left them drifting in a life raft outside Cesme, Tyrkey.
Another “successful” illegal operation performed by the Greek coast guard, on direct orders from the Greek authorities, to protect Europe from these unwanted people. In these difficult times it’s easy to see that we do not value life equally, we differentiate between people who are more “similar” to us, the right skin color and religion, and we open our doors, the rest, those unlucky ones, who comes from the wrong place, we beat, torture and mutilate, even kill to keep them out of our precious Europe.
At a time when European countries opens their doors to millions of refugees fleeing war and terror in Ukraine, the Greek government is systematically breaking international laws and human rights, beating, robbing, and risking the lives of men, women and children from other parts of the world, who are searching for safety.
Human rights are everyone’s: they are the rights of every person on Earth, regardless of their race, their nationality, their colour or their beliefs.