On May 19, only four days after the shocking video was published in The New York Times showing Greek authorities pushing back 12 people from Lesvos, 96 people was lefts drifting in 4 life rafts in the middle of the sea. No journalist or EU politician has mentioned them with a single word, no article, no request for investigation, it’s as if their rights have no value.
On Monday may 22, a sailboat carrying 96 people was in distress south west of Methoni, Pelopponese, Greece. Wetter was rough, in high waves and without a working engine they feared for their lives, and contaminated Aegean Boat Report for assistance.
We immediately informed the Greek coast guard, and learned that they already had received a distress call regarding this sailboat, and that a rescue operation had been launched.
People onboard the sailboat told us that they had spoken directly to the Greek coast guard, but no rescue boat had arrived. They feared that the Greek coast guard wouldn’t rescue them, so they contacted several organizations to try to get help, amongst them Aegean Boat Report and Alarmphone.
We lost contact with the group on the sailboat around midnight, Greek coast guard refused to give any further information, and we feared that they had no intention to rescue the passengers and take them to a port of safety, as they are required to do under international maritime law.
The following day Greek coast guard suddenly was keen on providing information, they told us that they had launched a rescue operation but not found any signs of the boat nor the people onboard, and that the boat most likely had traveled towards Italy.
We found this hard to believe since the people onboard had no prior experience in sailing a boat, and the engine on the boat had run out of fuel, so how could they have moved away from the are by themselves, especially as far as Italy. From previous experience we had a pretty good idea about what had happened, and now we only had to wait to confirm our suspicion.
Tuesday afternoon we were informed that the Turkish coast guard had picked up four life rafts in two different locations, a total of 96 people, all claiming to be from the same sailboat that had been in distress close to the greek mainland.
50 people was found drifting in two Greek manufacturer life rafts from Lalizas at 13.25 outside Datça, close to the Greek island of Simi.
Three hours later two other life rafts carrying 46 people was found drifting outside Dalaman, close to the greek island of Rhodes, these life rafts was also from the Greek manufacturer Lalizas from Piraeus.
People rescued by the Turkish coast guard told that they had finally been rescued by the Greek coast guard, everyone was so relieved, they were finally safe, or so they thought.
Greek coast guard didn’t waist any time, on the same day as the shocking report in The New York Times was published, they once again forced vulnerable people into life rafts and left them helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea. One might think that they would be a bit more careful after a shocking revelation in the international press, but in Greece it’s business as usual.
The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis once again lied about his knowledge of the Greek pushback strategy, this time in an interview on CNN, claiming he did not approve of such actions. It’s actually not only hard, but impossible to believe that he don’t know what his own coast guard is doing, and has been doing for years, resources put in to this is enormous.
The rescued people was taken on a big coast guard vessel, transported over 450 miles before they were forced into these life rafts, it’s hard to believe that this was done without authorization from above.
This isn’t the first time people have magically disappeared from one area and suddenly reappeared very close to the Turkish mainland, hundreds of miles away from their original locationhun, not in boats but in life rafts without any engines, nobody ask anyone questions, especially not the EU Commission.
The pushback case published in The New York Times seems to have come as a shock for many, especially some EU politicians. Ylva Johansson went out on Twitter acting all shocked, and has requested Greek authorities to investigate this single case, not all the other 1.200 life raft cases but only this one, as if she haven’t been aware and fully informed on how border management has been carried out by Greek authorities.
So what made that case so special that she has to make a public announcement, telling everyone that this time, for these 12 people, she will actually make an effort and try to do her job, for once. What about the other 20.000 people who have been found drifting in life rafts in the Aegean Sea for the last 3 years? She has decided, all by herself, that for these 12, 0.02% of all found drifting in life rafts the last 3 years, she will request an independent investigation, If that’s not a total neglect of her duties as a Commissioner and as a human being I don’t know what is.
For the last three years 20.000 people, men, women and children, have been kidnapped, beaten, robbed, sexually abused, raped, tortured and in some cases killed by Greek authorities. They have been forced back to sea and dropped in 1.200 life rafts, and nobody has bothered to initiate any sort of investigation.
The EU Commission seems to have been particularly uninterested in doing anything, perhaps because they are knowingly financing violations of international laws and human rights in Greece.
So far, after over three years, overwhelming amounts of evidence of human rights violations performed by Greek authorities, no infringement procedures have been launched against Greece.