On Saturday March 25, we published about a sailboat south of Crete in distress, Greek coast guard refused to comment on the incident, now we know why.
Earlier the same day, Alarm Phone published about the same sailboat in distress, together with a video showing that the Greek coast guard was on location.
According to the people onboard a vessel from the Hellenic coast guard towed the sailboat towards the southern part of Crete, but did not take the boat to land. The sailboat was left at sea east of the village of Kaloi Limenes, while a vessel from the Hellenic coast guard was observing from a distance.
From videos taken onboard the sailboat we can clearly see the towing vessel, a Lambro Halmatic 60 lifeboat, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard stationed on Crete, again no question about the fact that the Greek coast guard was aware of the situation and present on location.
Non of the passengers onboard the sailboat was taken to safety on land, nor had they received food, water or medical attention. Why the coast guard didn’t taken them to port was unknown, people onboard was worried that they would be pushed back to Turkey.
JRCC Piraeus refused to confirm that there were any operation ongoing in the area, but it seemed local press had gotten information that an operation was ongoing, and that a sailboat carrying refugees was involved, even taking picktures of it from land.
Since the sailboat wasn’t taken directly to port, and people were left out in the sea until nightfall guarded by several vessels from the Greek coast guard, we realized that another pushback was imminent.
We feared that the people onboard was about to become victims of yet another pushback. The last we heard was that they could see lights from several larger vessels approaching in the dark, most likely coast guard vessels but impossible to tell in the dark.
We tried to follow the case through the night, but contact on the phones used was soon lost, we didn’t hear from them again.
There was no doubt that the Greek authorities was on location, and was aware of the people in distress in Greek waters. They are obligated by international maritime law, refugee law and human rights law, to bring the people in distress to the nearest port of safety, from previous similar cases this seems to be of no concern to the Greek authorities.
The following day the sailboat was nowhere to be seen, and the people onboard had evaporated into thin air, so what really happened? Greek authorities will say, if asked, that they sent vessels to the area but did not locate anyone, despite the fact that we have videos of them in close proximity of the sailboat in brought daylight. These constant lies seems to bother nobody, when officials lies about this, despite the overwhelming evidence provided to the contrary, what else are they lying about, and on whose orders?
Sunday night at 22.20 Turkish coast guard found 3 life rafts drifting outside Datça, Turkey, onboard 59 people, men, women and small children, they told they had been left helplessly drifting by the Greek coast guard.
Onboard the 3 life rafts there were 19 people from Afghanistan, 18 from Iraq, 12 from Palestine, 9 from Iran and 1 from Syria.
So far Turkish coast guard has only released one picture and one video from the incident outside Datça, but from this we have no problem identifying several people from the sailboat outside Crete.
Anyone looking at the pictures and videos taken onboard the sailboat, can easily see that this is the same group that one day later was found drifting outside Datça in 3 life rafts, it’s actually not rocket science, it’s clear as day.
After towing the sailboat towards land on Crete, the Greek authorities transferred 59 people onto a Greek coast guard vessel, most likely telling them that they would take them to land, this would have been a lie, but would make the transfer so much smoother. Then they transported them away from Crete towards Turkish waters, 362km, before they forced them into life rafts and abandoned them helplessly drifting in the middle of the sea.
Greek authorities are trying to silence Aegean Boat Report, threatening the organization from publishing these cases by judicial harassment. Let me assure you that this is not working, we will continue exposing these criminals as long as it’s necessary, protecting human rights is not a crime, we will not be silenced.
The case will be updated when we receive more information and footage.