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15 Children Left Drifting In Life Rafts By Greek Authorities

In the early morning of December 6, a boat carrying 44 people arrived on the northeastern shore of Lesvos.

Shortly after arriving the group fled to the woods in the surrounding area to hide, fearing that if they were found by Greek authorities they would be illegally deported back to Turkey.

The group contacted local organizations to try to get help, after a while their call for help was answered. If the group agreed that the local organization shared their location with Greek authorities, this organization could then come to their aid, after some persuasion, the group hesitantly agreed, they desperately needed help.

Hours passed and nothing happened, the group was reassured that the organization was on its way, they just needed to be patient. At this point the group started reaching out to others, in a desperate attempt to find help elsewhere, but suddenly the situation changed dramatically.

Five people, all men, dressed in dark blue military uniforms, faces covered by balaclavas like commandos, carrying guns and batons arrived in their location, they were screaming while pointing guns at them, it was a terrifying.

In the chaos that followed, 3 people, all men, managed to run away and hide, two of the commandos ran after them but wasn’t able to catch them, they gave up after a short chase and returned to the group.

The others masked men had already started to search the group, taking away any belongings they might find, phones, money, bags and papers, people was crying, especially the women and children. Some of the women, the younger ones, had to undress in front of everyone, and was thoroughly searched, it was an humiliating experience.

The group was taken into a dark van and transported away from the area, this happened while the organization was held up by a roadblock by local police, not an unusual tactic, to hinder organizations from assisting new arrivals, giving authorities room to remove people and afterwards claiming that nobody was found.

We have seen this tactic been used for a long time on Lesvos, police setting up roadblocks to avoid unwanted spectators and any interference from NGOs. Organizations have to inform authorities on location of new arrivals, to be allowed to go to assist, this permission might be delayed, and give authorities a window of opportunity to rush to the area and remove people, before organizations are allowed to move in.

When this is not enough, because at times people are difficult to find, the local police puts up roadblocks, stopping organizations on what they call “routine checks”, papers, searching vehicles etc, a process that can take hours. When people have been found and removed, police at the roadblock is informed and the search is over. Organizations heads to the location already given to the authorities hours earlier, to find nothing.

Sometimes the coordination between police at the roadblock and the “hunting party” in the woods is a bit sloppy, and organizations are given the all clear at the roadblock before everything is rapped up. Then organizations are moving in to areas where these masked commandos are still operating, and we get situations like the one in October 20, where a team from MSF arrived on location finding 22 people, three people in handcuffs and four others severely beaten, their attackers, 8 men in dark uniforms wearing balaclavas and carrying guns, ran away when they heard MSF approaching.

The group of 41 people, men, women and children, was taken to a port, forced onto a Greek Coast Guard vessel and quickly taken back out to sea. The group had to sit under a tarpaulin in the front of the boat, hidden to make sure nobody could see what was going on from land or sea.

Soon after they were forced into two life rafts and left helplessly drifting in brought daylight in the middle of the sea. One of the people had managed to hid his phone, and captured this on film, in the video he says “Greece forced us to go back, this is our situation”.

At 15.50 Turkish coast guard found and rescued 41 people, 15 of them small children, from two life rafts drifting outside Dikili, Turkey, after they had been informed by Greek Coast Guard of their location.

After being rescued they informed officers onboard that three people were missing, left behind on Lesvos. Three people were later this day found on Lesvos by organizations and taken to the quarantine facility in Megala Thermi, Lesvos north. The three afghans confirmed that they had been part of a group of 44 afghans who arrived early in the morning, they managed to run away, while the rest of their group was captured by men in military uniform carrying guns, faces covered with balaclavas.

If anyone really wanted to investigate these illegal deportations from the Greek Aegean islands, it’s not very difficult to find witnesses who can confirm these cases, 3 men from the case of December 6 and 22 people from October 20 are now living in the camp on Lesvos, together with hundreds Møre with similar experiences. Strangely enough, after such serious accusations, nobody, not the Greek authorities nor the EU commission has found it necessary to perform such investigations, we can only wonder why not..

Also locals on these islands have observed these “refugee hunters” roaming around on the islands, driving unmarked vehicles without license plates, walking around with balaclavas, carrying guns, but Greek authorities are claiming they are not working for the authorities.. Then who are these commandos working for and why are not Greek authorities interested in stopping these “vigilants”, again we can only wonder..

It’s also a fact that these men in dark uniforms, without any distinction, wearing balaclavas, is also seen on several Greek coast guard vessels, it’s a bit strange if Greek authorities don’t know who are operating their vessels, not only strange but highly unlikely.

At the moment Greek authorities are more interested in criminalizing organizations who are documenting these crimes performed by Greek authorities, than to investigate these violations of international laws and human rights. They launch investigations based on made up charges, leak false accusations to the government friendly press, who without questions publish these lies.

Greek authorities are criminalizing frontline defenders who expose the true face of this right wing government, in a futile effort to discredit their accusers. Anyone criticizing the Greek authorities, politicians, journalists, lawyers or organizations are considered an enemy of the state, they are called out for being human traffickers, spies, Turkish agitators and running criminal networks, all this because we are exposing their crimes for the whole world to see.

The use of spyware against critics and opposition, intimidations, control of the press, violence, criminalization of organizations and individuals who expose them, promoting nationalism and racism, these are well know tactics of a fascistic regime, not a European democracy.

So far over 50.000 people’s rights have been violated by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea, men women and children threatened, beaten and killed as a result of the Greek “final solution” on border management, this is not the European way of life, nor represents our common European values.

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