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23 Afghans Beaten, Tortured and Pushed Back Outside Lesvos

In the early morning of Monday November 13, at 07.30, a boat carrying 23 afghans, mostly families with children, was stopped 100 meters from land east of Korakas, Lesvos north by a vessel from the Greek coast guard.

In the video, that was taken by one of the passengers, we can clearly see the cliffs of Korakas on the right side. We can also see a little white building on the left in the first 10 seconds of the video, it’s the chapel “Agios Theodoras”. There is absolutely no question where this video was taken, any local can confirm that this is east of Korakas, Lesvos north.

Masked men used boat hooks with iron tips to destroy the engine, in the process hitting and injuring several people onboard, amongst them an old man and a child. The masked coast guard officers took no notice of this, and continued to hit down hard toward the fragile rubber boat until the engine was destroyed.

Everyone onboard was terrified, we can hear people screaming hysterically, it’s just unbelievable that members of a European coast guard agency, who have sworn an oath to protect human lives, can perform such atrocities, it’s just appalling.

The group of 23 men, women and children were taken onboard the coast guard vessel, the masked officers told them that they would take them to a “UN camp”, this was most definitely a lie.

When everyone was onboard the coast guard vessel, the masked men ordered everyone to hand over their phones, money and other valuables, those who refused were brutally beaten. All phones was immediately thrown into the sea, it was quite obvious that they didn’t want any evidence of their crimes.

In most cases people don’t hide their phones, in fear of what will happen to them if the phones are found. This time one of them kept his cool, and hid the phone under his child’s clothes, this phone was later used to call the international emergency number 112 that resulted in them being rescued.

The group was kept on the coast guard vessel for almost two hours, the vessel, a Lambro 57 coastal patrol vessel ΛΣ-144, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, stationed on Lesvos. While onboard, the vessel moved slowly away from Lesvos towards the Turkish sea border, they had never any intention on taking anyone to a camp.

At the Turkish sea border outside Ayvacik, the Greek coast guard vessel forced the group back in the rubber boat, 23 people, men, women and children, those who couldn’t clime down into the boat was thrown down, everything was done at gunpoint, they had no choice.

The Greek coast guard vessel pulled away, and the group was left helplessly drifting in the middle of the sea, in a rubber boat with no engine, the Greek officers had taken it off and dropped it into the sea. Luckily they had managed to hide one phone, this was used to contact rescue services, and at 11.05 am they were found drifting outside Ayvacik by the Turkish coast guard.

Some might say this is an isolated incident, unfortunately it’s not, this is the normal routine happening every single day all over the Aegean Sea. In the last four years 75.000 people have been illegally pushed back in the Aegean Sea by Greek authorities, all in the name of border protection.

This was all done in brought daylight in an area heavily monitored by Frontex, strangely enough, nobody saw anything, no report was filed, all reported to be normal. And in many aspects it’s actually exactly what it is, normal, because this has now been going on for four years, night and day, everyone knows that these atrocities are taking place, but nobody is doing anything to stop it.

These men onboard the coast guard vessel isn’t coast guard officers, just criminals with a badge, they and so many other officers in the Greek coast guard should be put behind bars where they belong. To hide behind “just following orders” won’t save them, because they know that these orders are illegal, in direct violation of the law of the sea, international law and human rights law.

At some point, sooner or later, everyone will face judgment for their crimes, let’s hope, for the sake of humanity, that for these criminals it’s sooner than later.


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