On Monday July 4, Aegean Boat Report published an Urgent Appeal on the behalf of 47 People In Imminent Danger Of Being Pushed Back From Lesvos. We called upon organizations, lawyers and journalists currently on Lesvos for assistance, the group was is in danger of being pushed back if found by Greek authorities.
The group arrived before first light on Monday July 4, on Korakas, Lesvos north, and contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, they said that the police were hunting them, shouting to them to come out, firing in the air several times to try to scare them.
A majority of the group, 38 people, was hunted down and taken by police around 06.30, only 9 was still hiding, 5 men, 1 women and 3 children.
Locals in the area had observed several cars driving around without license plates this morning, they said they were searching for arrivals. They had also asked several locals in a nearby village, if they knew anything who was helping refugees.
38 people was found and removed by masked men, all Afghan families fleeing from Taliban in Afghanistan. The same cars spotted earlier that morning, was later observed driving south towards Mytelini in high speed. Unmarked dark cars and a dark van without license plates, sane cares observed in previous cases where refugees have been removed from Lesvos.
Normally when new arrivals are transported south they should be taken to the quarantine facility for registration, but the 38 people had not been taken into the quarantine camp in the south, so where did the police take them? I guess we all know the answers to that question.
We also posted a huge “thank you”, to all organizations on Lesvos, who could have intervened but didn’t lift a finger to try to prevent this from happening, you can’t say you didn’t know, because you did!
We of course knows very well that there are challenges when opposing Greek authorities, but there are ways to get things done if they really wants to, and that’s perhaps the main problem her, they actually don’t want to. It seems that head office in Athen for both UNHCR and MSF, is more interested in playing ball with Greek authorities than actually do a proper job protecting vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution.
The remaining 9, five men, one woman and her three children, was hiding behind rocks and trees in the hills on the west side of Korakas, Lesvos north. To stay outside in the heat, without shelter, food or water was hard, especially for the children.
Both Local UNHCR and MSF was informed, and UNHCR was given permission to share their location with authorities. But did any of these highly regarded organizations step in and assist in any way, no they didn’t.
From UNHCR we received information that they could come tomorrow morning, since it now was after office hours, and MSF couldn’t go out because it was getting dark, and they do not operate after sundown. I’m actually quite shocked, these two organizations basically told people who desperately needed their help, that they had to stay outside hiding throughout the night because it was not convenient for them to help. If I worked for UNHCR or MSF on Lesvos, I would be deeply embarrassed, let’s hope they can get their priorities straight at some point in the future.
Kudos to those few who stood up against authorities on the side of the vulnerable, shame on those who looked the other way doing absolutely nothing, you are a disgrace for your profession.
The nine eventually got help from two individuals, not related to any organizations on Lesvos, but since no organization would help, the group decided to try to walk, with three small children, from Korakas to the quarantine camp in Megala Therma, close to Eftaloue. A walk that would probably take them 5-6 hours in the dark.
They didn’t get very far, in the outskirts of the village of Klio they were stopped by police, and told to wait for someone to come and take them to camp. Eventually a police van arrived and the group of 9 was transported to the registration center on Lesvos south, we waited for final confirmation that the group actually had arrived at the camp before we could relax, in light of what happened to the rest of their group earlier in the morning.
We must remember that these nine people are witnesses to a crime committee by Greek authorities, they witnessed their friends being taken away by masked men, so we must assume that they are not very interested in them talking to journalists or anyone who wants to investigate this.
There are literary hundreds of witnesses to pushbacks performed by the Greek authorities in camps on the Aegean islands, their testimonies seems of no interest to anyone. Why investigate something that they already knows the outcome of, evidence over the last two years is overwhelming, but yet the European Parliament seems reluctant to initiate any proper investigations into these illegal activities performed by a member state.
Instead they let Greek officials come to Brussels and blatantly lye to the Commision, everyone knows they are lying, but the charade continues. On Tuesday Mitsotakis made a complete fool of himself in the European Parliament, a huge embarrassment, especially for the Greek people, but also for Europe. I would suggest that the European Parliament gave the stage to the victims of these atrocities, and not the perpetrators.
I won’t use much time on Mitsotakis speech to Parliament, it can be watched in full her, a theatrical performance that fooled no one. But one think caught my immediate attention, a lie that is so obvious that even Kyriakos must have know it to be false, nevertheless he used it, mocking the Parliament, playing them for a fool.
He claimed that the Greek coast guard had rescued 6000 people in the Aegean Sea in the last months, that’s quite interesting since so far this year, the last six months, 2867 people have been officially registered as arrived in the Aegean by Greek authorities. Most of them wasn’t even rescued, they actually managed to land safely on the Greek islands by themselves, without any need of rescue.
So Mitsotakis, the 6000 people you claimed have been rescued by the heroic Greek coast guard in the last months, where are they, what did you do with them? Because let me make one thing very clear, they are not in Greece.
On Monday July 4, at 12.20, Turkish coast guard reported that they had found two life rafts drifting outside Foça, Turkey, carrying a total of 38 Afghans, mostly families, many of the small children.
The area where they were found is south east of Lesvos, over 40 miles from the place they arrived on Lesvos earlier this day. The van spotted by locals driving in high speed towards Mytelini, was in deed in a hurry, not to take 38 new arrivals to the camp for registration, but to get them removed from the island, pushed back as soon as possible. Somewhere on Lesvos south this group was forced back into the sea by Greek coast guard, on direct orders from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and left helplessly drifting in two life rafts in the Aegean Sea.
In a video from the rescue operation outside Foça, we can see two life rafts filled with people, many of them small children, the latest victims of Greek aggression against refugees on the border of Europe, and how do we act on these authorities, we fund the Greek coast guard to continue, it’s actually quite fascinating.
The nine who managed to escape this pushback is now in the quarantine camp on Lesvos, they have confirmed that the people seen being rescued from these life rafts is the same people they arrived with on Lesvos north in the early hours of Monday July 4.
In the hills on Korakas evidence on a large group of people arriving is scattered, bags and personal belongings that usually people would take with them, is left behind in the panic that occurred when commandos hunted them in the dark.
Greek authorities claims that they do not perform pushbacks, and that all the evidence piling up against them over the last two years is the result of Turkish propaganda. UN, reputed journalists, NGOs, European MEPs, international courts, even the high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, are being manipulated by “propaganda machines and smuggling networks”, paid off, according to the Greek authorities..
Pushbacks violate the fundamental asylum-law principle of non-refoulement and are contrary to international and EU human rights law of which Greece, as an EU Member State is subject to as well as national law (article 20 and 41 of Law no. 3907 of 2011.16).
It is the absolute legal right of any person to travel to any state, with or without paperwork, to apply for asylum. It is absolutely illegal for any government to prevent them, or to force them out of the country once they have entered, without giving their application for asylum due consideration.
It is unacceptable. It is a stain not only on the good name of Greece and Europe, but on the world.