In the early hours of August 17, a boat carrying 21 people, Palestinian families, arrived on the south west side of Agathonisi.
While they group still was disembarking from the boat, a fisherman arrived in a blue fishing boat. They claim that the fishermen sat fire to their boat, if this is true, or they did it themselves, and for what reason, we haven’t been able to find out, but the boat is on fire, this there is no doubt about.
After arriving they started climbing up the steep hills in the area, trying to get to hire ground to be able to navigate. At this point they contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance.
The group provided pictures, videos and location data, there was no doubt that the group had arrived on Agathonisi.
One member in the group, a man, had fallen and hurt his back, in the video we can see him in what appears to be in grave pain. We learned later that he had a fraction in his spine after his fall.
Agathonisi is a small island in the northern part of the Dodecanese, only approximately 185 people live on this island, and there is no humanitarian organization present. The solution for this group, as advised by Aegean Boat Report, was to move to the nearest village and ask for assistance, if there were any medical emergencies they should immediately call 112.
After a while, after great efforts on our behalf, they agreed on walking towards the nearest village, in their case the village of Mikro Chorio, a few kilometers away.
While walking they made several videos to document their presence on the island, we can clearly see the pier in the port of Agios Georgios, the only harbor on the island.
Whit only basic tools like Google Maps and Google Earth, we can without any difficulties confirm, that the pictures and videos were taken south west of the harbor in Agios Georgios.
In another video we can clearly see a Greek coast guard vessel close to land, ΛΣ-612, a Lambro 57 coastal patrol vessel belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, stationed on Agathonisi. The coast guard had been alerted by the local fishermen, and was in the area to try to locate the new arrivals.
The group walked, not as we agreed to the village of Mikro Chorio, but down to port in Agios Giorgos, the time was 12.50 pm. Her they were observed and talked to several locals. Since coast guard already had arrived in port and notified local police, the group was immediately apprehended by police, time was 12.55.
The group was scared, they feared that they would be pushed back to Turkey, and sent several messages.
“Greek intelligence came to us and they will throw us a basket in the sea. Please help. Please, we have children”
“Please, please, help us, they will throw a basket into the sea, and we have sick children with us”
“We are in danger, we do not want them to throw us into the sea, we have children who are breastfed”
Last message from the group was a voice message at 13.39 pm, after this there were no response.
While we still had contact with the group on Agathonisi, local police told them that the coast guard would take them to the refugee camp on Leros, since there were no camps on Agathonisi. Later we learned that nobody had been taken to Leros this day, nor the following day.
Several locals in Agios Giorgos observed while the group of 21 people, some of them small children, were escorted onboard the vessel from the Greek coast guard, and taken back out to sea. Locals believed everything was in order, as coast guard also had explained to them, the refugees would be taken to Leros, unfortunately the coast guard and local police had lied, both to the refugees and the locals.
Onboard the coast guard vessel all belongings, bags, money, papers and phones was taken by the Greek coast guard officers. People were searched thoroughly, but one phone was hidden in a place they didn’t think of looking. The owner of the phone didn’t dare to take it out and use it, not before the Greek coast guard was out of sight. A video was then sent to Aegean Boat Report, from a life raft drifting outside Dikili, Turkey, it was sent by the same person who only a few hours earlier, had sent videos from Agathonisi.
At 17.25 pm Turkish coast guard found and rescued 21 people, all Palestinians, some of them small children, from a life raft drifting outside Didim, Turkey, 26 km from Agathonisi.
The Turkish coast guard had one hour earlier, been informed by email, that a group of people were drifting in this area, the email came from the Greek coast guard. It is remarkable how the Greek coast guard new that people were drifting in this area, in a Greek manufactured life raft, if they were not responsible. Especially since we can prove, without a doubt, that the same group had been on Agathonisi a few hours earlier, together with members of the Greek coast guard.
Comparing pictures and videos taken on Agathonisi, with the video from the life raft, and pictures and video from when they were rescued by the Turkish coast guard, leaves no doubt, it’s the same group that arrived on Agathonisi earlier this morning.
So the question is, how could this be possible, if this was not the handy-work of the Greek authorities? We have all seen the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, time and time again, deny that Greek authorities are responsible.
There is only one possible conclusion, that is that the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is blatantly lying, not very reassuring when we are talking about a head of state. He’s not only lying to the Greek people, he is also lying to the European Commission, European and international leaders, international Organizations, the international press and religious leaders, he’s even lying to Pope Francis.
We call upon the international community, including the United Nations, European Union and individual nation states to stand against these shocking and reckless acts, and finally call the current Greek government to account for its disgraceful and illegal behaviour towards innocent men, women and children seeking safety from war, chaos and terror.
Push-backs are happening every single day in the Aegean Sea, and Greece will continue this inhuman practice, systematically violate people’s human rights, until Europe once again decides to put human rights back on the agenda. At the moment everyone is looking the other way, hoping that things will change, without their involvement, it won’t.. At the moment Europe is a disgrace, and embarrassment, against everything we once held highly, we seems to have lost our way, it will forever be a stain on history..
At some point people in charge of this madnes must be held accountable for there actions, this needs to stop!