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An epic blunder

Yesterday the right-wing pro government tv channel Skai, who eagerly supports the ruling government, made yet another blunder. An “exclusive” video was published, supposedly proving the well known rhetoric by Greek authorities on instrumentalization of refugees by Turkish authorities, but also trying to incriminate NGOs that supposedly had helped refugees to cross the border.

The video that they claimed to be “exclusive” material received from Greek authorities from confiscated phones, was in fact published by EFSYN on May 26, almost five months ago, from a case where 94 people had been pushed back by Greek authorities.

The information in the video is quite clear, both what we see and what we hear, but for some strange reason the journalist translated what was said in a way that totally changes the story, most likely deliberately to support their angle, “As the English-speaking woman tells the border guards, the organization helped them get there and notified them that they would come and pick them up”, as you clearly can hear, this is totally wrong.

In this case the tv station messed up, instead of supporting the government narrative, they actually did the opposite. This group of 94 people was never rescued by Greek authorities, according to officials they were never found. In the video we can of course see that Greek border guards are talking to the refugees, so to claim they were never found, would in most countries be futile, but not in Greece, as long as they are supported by the press they can claim anything, no matter how obvious the lie is.

On May 24 the organizations Greek Council for Refugees and HumanRights360 was contacted by a group of 94 refugees from Syria who were trapped for days on an islet of Evros, among them dozens of children.

They submitted an urgent request for interim measures to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), to ensure that the people had immediate humanitarian and medical assistance. Just a few hours later, the ECtHR granted the interim measures, ordering the Greek government not to remove the 94 refugees from the Greek territory, and to offer them access to food, water and adequate medical treatment. With the same ruling, the ECtHR is also asking the Greek government to provide to the Court official information on the whereabouts of the refugees, on whether the refugees have been able to submit an asylum application and if they indeed submitted one, and on whether they received legal assistance throughout this process.

On may 25 the Greek authorities was given an urgent order from the ECtHR to locate and rescue the group of 94 people, Greek authorities lied to the European Court, claiming the group was never found. They had carried out a search in the area on May 27, but could not find anyone in the given location. As we can see in the video, Greek authorities deliberately lied to the European Court.

On May 28, EFSYN published that the group had been violently pushed back to Turkey. “a large number of commandos with masked faces arrived on the islet late Thursday night, accompanied by a group of Arabic speakers, who were translating the orders. The information says that the commandos violently beat refugees, forced them to take off their clothes, removed mobile phones and personal belongings and transported them to the Greek bank of the Evros, from where they were then returned to Turkey”.

So if Skai TV actually got the video from “confiscated material found on the mobile phone of one of the 94 migrants who were located at the spot”, confiscated by the Hellenic Police, further proves that information provided by the refugees, that their belongings had been taken before they had been pushed back, was correct, a major blunder by the tv station.

We must assume that the Tv station is not also lying about where they got this material from, they could of course since they are lying about everything else, but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on this point. That would actually prove that the Greek authorities found the group, stole all their belongings before pushing them back to Turkey, even forcing them to take of their clothes, sounds strangely familiar to a resent case in this area..

It’s not as we didn’t know this already, the case was published in the press almost five months ago. And in general we are not even shocked, because this is the way Greek authorities have been treating refugees on its borders for years, systematically violating international law and human rights.

The “shocking” part in this was that a right-wing pro government tv station Skai, could find themselves proving pushbacks by Greek authorities, while trying to do the opposite, stupidly has no limits. Similar stupidity was shown by the Greek minister of migration Notis Mitarachi earlier this month, when he tried to push an 3 year old video as a “push forward” by Turkish authorities, when in fact the video showed Turkish coast guard preventing a boat from crossing into Greek waters.

When stupidity is considered patriotism, it is unsafe to be intelligent.

Several videos was published by efsyn, there was no doubt that the group was on a small island on the Greek side of the river.

“Of the thirty children we have, only ten are good. By tomorrow they will die without water and food. No one listens to us, neither commandos nor the United Nations nor anyone. We ask for help. We are trapped here without water and food. My daughter is six months old I give her water from the river to stop crying. We eat the soil and leaves of trees. Please help us as quickly as possible because the children will die”.

“The smugglers brought us here and left us. I have an amputated leg, it is also inflamed and it is progressing I need help immediately please very much”.

“We are Syrians, we were brought by the smugglers on the Greek side, we are on an islet, with us small children, women, sick and disabled. We have neither water, nor food, nor pampers. There are also many injured. We ask for your support, we ask you, please, to save us. Look at the girl swollen her eye… Look the kids have all gotten sick. Look it’s raining on us and underneath us is mud. Please help us, we have been here for about ten days”.

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