We were originally undecided whether or not to respond to the latest allegations made against us, three other NGOs and six individuals two days ago (Monday 19 July 2021).

But having been named as an organisation in yesterday’s Kathimerini – a decision that newspaper would only have made having been given our name by the Greek police, who we must assume were themselves operating with the permission of the Greek government (though none of the three: Kathimerini, the Greek police, or the Greek government, have even once contacted us about this or any other matter), we feel we have no choice but to respond.

So, to repeat what we said the last time these allegations were made (which was coincidentally the last time major international media were talking in-depth about the Greek government’s illegal and immoral practice of pushing men, women and children back from Greece):

Aegean Boat Report is not, has never been and will never be a part of any smuggling ring, anywhere on Earth. We strongly doubt that any such ring exists in the Aegean region in any case, but if it did, we would not be involved, if it does, we are not involved and should such a ring ever be formed, we would not join it or take part in any of its activities.

We are not people smugglers. We do not and never have smuggled any person or item in the entire period not only that Aegean Boat Report has existed, but also that its members have been alive.

More than this, Aegean Boat Report and its members have never broken and will never break any law.

We operate in strict adherence to international law, EU law and Greek law.

In fact, we do so with complete reliability, absolutely all of the time, which is considerably more than can be said for the current Greek government run by Kiriakos Mitsotakis and his Nea Dimokratia party.

What we do in fact do, if men, women and children contact us when they are in Greece waters, is to ensure they are met by people who can give them food, water and dry clothing, and help them enter the system and apply for asylum, as is their legal right.

The Greek government should be doing this, as it is required under international law, European law and indeed Greek law. It should be doing this because it means that they – the Greek government – would have accurate data on the number of men, women and children arriving in Greece and where they are in the process of registering, applying for asylum, and having their applications processed and decided upon by Greece and the wider European Union.

It should be doing this because it is what is safest for the men, women and children seeking asylum. And it should be doing this because it is what is best for the men, women and children who are Greek citizens – for whom the Greek government is supposed to take responsibility.

It is in fact shocking and shameful that Aegean Boat Report is being forced to do the job of the Greek government on this vital issue, because the Greek government prefers to shirk its responsibilities and, worse, to break laws to which Greece is a direct signatory.

It is neither responsible, nor even really feasible, to pretend that what Aegean Boat Report does is any way the same as ‘people smuggling’, and as this is the second time the Greek Police, acting under the guidance of the Greek government, has made these baseless allegations against us, we must ask: why?

We do not say that it is because we dedicate a portion of our time to reporting and publicising the Greek government’s consistent and unjustifiable practice of breaking the law by removing people from Greece without even allowing them to apply for asylum, even though these allegations come – as they did last time – just as international media and even the EU Commission is reporting on and criticising the government for this exact behaviour. Perhaps this latest allegation is just (another) mistake.

But we will say, once more, that the allegations against us are baseless and incorrect.

Neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it has ever smuggled any person or item or been engaged with any person or group that does so.

Neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it is engaged with any person or group which does so, or any activities involving smuggling.

And neither Aegean Boat Report nor any person associated with it will ever be engaged with any smuggling activity or person or group involved in such activity.

We have not broken, and do not and will not break, any law.

We hope these latest allegations, whether made by mistake or for any other reason, will be dropped as soon as it becomes clear to those making them how wildly incorrect they are, and will never again be made.

We would like an apology, but instead will settle for the Greek government ceasing to break international, EU and Greek law, and ceasing to smear us in this mendacious – and what is, in England referred to as vexatious – way.

We Must All End The Greek Government’s Abuse of Human Rights

The Greek government’s astonishing and unacceptable violation of human rights continues unabated, as the treatment of two more groups of vulnerable people seeking safety in the EU shows.

In the early hours of 2 July, two boats arrived on the Greek Aegean island of Lesvos, one in the north close to Chapel carrying 10 people, and one east of Tsilia in the south, carrying 20 people.

Both groups fled to the woods in the surrounding areas, hiding from the police, fearing that they, like so many before them, would be sent back to Turkey if found.

At first light, both groups contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance. We received locations, pictures and videos on Whatsapp, which showed the new arrivals was in fact on Lesvos.

The group of 10 people, in the north, walked towards the village of Lepetimnos, then east towards Sikaminea. During the day, we lost contact with the group several times, due to bad cellphone coverage in the area. Our last contact with the group was at 9pm, when all phones went offline. They have not been online since.

UNHCR on Lesvos was informed on the arrivals and their whereabouts, what steps were taken, if any, to ensure the safety of these people is unknown.

At 12.40am on 3 July, the Turkish coast guard (TCG) found and picked up a child, alone in a small rubber boat without an engine, drifting outside Dikili, Turkey.

At 4.30am, the same TCG boat found and picked up nine people drifting in a similar rubber boat, also without an engine, in the same area.

In both cases they said they had been on land on Lesvos, arrested by police and forced back to sea by the Hellenic coast guard. The boy who was found alone, was a part of the group of 10 that arrived at Chapel, north Lesvos.

Comparing pictures taken by the group in the woods on Lesvos with the pictures taken by TCG when they were picked up at sea, there is no doubt it’s the same people. This means that 10 people, including several children, were removed from Lesvos itself and set adrift in small rubber boats by the Hellenic coast guard. They weren’t even given life vests. If this overcrowded small rubber boat had capsized, people would have drowned before anyone could reach them.

The 20 people who landed at Tsilia, in southern Lesvos, also hid in woods nearby.

After first light they divided into two groups. Twelve people from two families stayed in the area hiding, in part because some elderly people among them had difficulties walking.

The other eight people, from two families, started walking towards Tsilia, to make their presence known to the local residents. At around 8.30am, the group arrived in Tsilia, where members of the community gave them food and something to drink.

Aegean Boat Report advised them to go to the Church of Saint Nikolas, a well-known landmark in the area, to take pictures and videos to document their presence on Lesvos.

Since early morning, we had tried to find someone willing to go to Tsilia and meet them, but no organisation was willing to help: everyone was afraid to get involved, because of how the police might react. There is no doubt that it’s dangerous to get involved, to be in the same area as new arrivals, to try to help. You could face serious charges and end up in jail, just because you were there trying to make sure people are OK.

Tsilia 02.07.2021 by Hami Roshan

A journalist on Lesvos at the time, Hami Roshan, was willing to go to Tsilia to document the new arrivals. He arrived in Tsilia at around 3.30pm, interviewed the people, took some pictures as documentation and left approximately one hour later.

Pictures by Hami Roshan

Locals had already told the police about the new arrivals in Tsilia, and as the journalist left, several police cars drove towards the village. UNHCR was also informed on the arrivals in Tsilia, but what steps, if any, were taken to protect these vulnerable people, is unknown.

After this, we lost all contact with the group in Tsilia, and hours later with the group in the woods east of Tsilia.

From pictures and videos, taken by the journalist but also by the refugees themselves, there is absolutely no doubt that were on Lesvos.

Video by Hami Roshan Tsilia, Lesvos 02.07.2021

Their interactions with the local community were also videoed, but we fear the police have told those locals to keep quiet about what they did and saw.

Video by Hami Roshan, Tsilia, Lesvos 02.07.2021

At 10pm, the Turkish coast guard found and rescued 20 people from two life rafts drifting outside Dikili, Turkey, amongst them 7 year old Heliah Nazari.

From the extensive footage received from this group while on Lesvos, there is absolutely no doubt that it’s the same people found drifting in the life rafts by the Turkish coast guard.

Video from TCG

No arrivals were officially registered by the Greek government as having arrived on Lesvos this day, nor any of the following days.

Normally the case would have ended here, it’s one of a huge number of well-documented pushback cases, violations of international laws and human rights performed by the Greek authorities. There is no doubt what took place here, and who’s responsible.

But this case doesn’t end here.

On this particular day, as a sheer stroke of luck, the Turkish coast guard had allowed members of the international press onboard: one crew from a Japanese news outlet, an independent photojournalist, and a crew from The New York Times.

This TCG vessel was the same one which found and rescued the group of 20 people who had landed east of Tsilia, drifting outside Dikili in two life rafts, and later picked up the group of 10 people that had arrived at Chapel.

Aegean Boat Report shared pictures and videos of the groups from Lesvos with Carlotta Gall from The New York Times. From the footage they confirmed these were the same people they had interviewed on the TCG vessel, after they had been rescued from the life rafts. The report from The New Tork Times can be read here: ‘They Just Left Us’: Greece Is Accused of Setting Migrants Adrift at Sea – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

And these cases also came at an interesting time, as earlier this week (13 July 2021), the BBC broadcast a news report, in which the Greek government’s policy and practice of illegally removing men women and children from Greece to deny them their fundamental human right to apply for asylum was displayed and discussed.

The report includes a video of a pushback by the Greek Coastguard, which took place from the island of Kos in March 2020, at the beginning of the government’s increase of this illegal, dangerous and shameful practice. The entire video, that was provided by Aegean Boat Report to the BBC can be watched here.

Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis responded to this accurate and stark presentation of his Ministry’s – and his government’s – deliberate and consistent breaking of international law with a statement in which he said:

‘Allegations affecting Greece are clearly unfounded, rely on footage or testimonials provided for from the country of departure. Numerous cases have been investigated, including by the European Union, and reports have found no evidence of any breach of EU fundamental rights.’

This statement, as yet seemingly unchallenged by international media, argues both that the allegations of pushbacks are ‘unfounded’ and that footage of them happening actually exists. Which is a surprising foundation for an argument.

He adds that the footage which does exist – of pushbacks he claims did not happen – ‘came from the country of departure’. Not only is this irrelevant, it is also absolutely untrue: we and many other monitoring organisations have photos and video footage shot by the men, women and children being illegally forced out of Greece – in many cases while they are still in Greece. 

And while on the subject of false claims, we must state that while Mitarachis says ‘numerous cases have been investigated’ the Greek government has, to date, refused to investigate a single case which has taken place in the Aegean Sea, despite the repeated demands from the Greek Ombudsman that it must do so (because this is not an issue of ‘outsiders attacking Greece’ it is an issue of people who believe in the law attempting to encourage the Greek government to abide by it and investigate situations in which it appears to have been broken).

Nor indeed, despite Mitarachis’ statement, has the ‘European Union’ investigated ‘numerous cases’ let alone any in Greece. Indeed, in May this year, the European Commission responded to an open letter from Koraki and other organisations and stated that it had not and (incorrectly) could not investigate incidents involving the Greek government and its employees.

Indeed, Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, whose department is supposed to have responsibility for refugees, people seeking asylum, their rights and safety in the EU, described the Greek government’s activities as: ‘violations of our fundamental European values’.

We welcome Ms Johannsson’s comments, especially since in the past she has seemed to seek to defend the Greek government’s activities. We hope this is an indication that the Commissioner is become tired of the government’s repeated lies and refusal to even investigate the hundreds of incidents in which thousands of people have been illegally forced out of Greece and denied the right to apply for asylum.

And we would add that in fact, these pushbacks are more than ‘violations of fundamental European values; They are violations of international law; violations of people’s fundamental human rights. Violations of morality, common decency, basic safety standards and of the welfare not just of these men, women and children but of us all.

And they are being carried out as standard practice by the Greek government and its uniformed officers.

From 1 January – 30 June this year, the Greek government registered 1,211 men, women and children as arrivals in Greece via the Aegean Sea. In the same period, it carried out 174 pushbacks, in which 4,960 people were illegally forced out of Greece.

That means the Greek government has, this year, stripped the rights (and often also the possessions) of 89.5 per cent of people who have attempted to enter the EU via the Aegean Sea.

From 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2021, it has pushed back 14,431 people and only allowed 5,184 to register: breaking the law to prevent 74.6 per cent of all new arrivals from being allowed to exercise their legal rights and apply for asylum.

And the Greek government is actually increasing the pace at which it carries out these entirely illegal, immoral and shameful acts. In June 2021 alone, it registered just 97 men, women and children as new arrivals on the Aegean islands. It pushed back 1,089. That’s a pushback rate of 91.8 per cent. The cases of 2-3 July just prove it continues even now.

This is not acceptable. We say so, but it is not only us.

The European Commission says so. The Council of Europe says so. The Greek Ombudsman says so. Hundreds of Greek and international organisations say so, and every code of moral behaviour, as well as European and international law, say so.

It cannot continue. This is not about ‘Greece’ or Greek people. It is about the Greek government, which is breaking the law, behaving in a shocking and unacceptable fashion towards vulnerable men, women and children, lying to Greek people about its ‘right’ to do so, and lying to the world about wheter it is doing so at all.’

The Greek government is breaking the law, and in the process endangering human lives, and stripping us all of our most fundamental human rights. It cannot be allowed to continue to do so. We call on all organisations, all political agencies, and most importantly perhaps you and all other people, in Greece and beyond, to come together, step up and stop this horrific abuse of the law and human rights.

Greek Coast Guard Abandons New-Born Baby At Sea

Ten men, women and children, including a new-born baby, were held at gunpoint and stripped of their possessions by Greek police, before being forced into an engineless rubber boat and set adrift on the Aegean Sea, in the Greek government’s latest clear violation of international law and decent human behaviour.

On 4 July, Aegean Boat Report published a report about a boat carrying 21 people that landed on Chios.

The boat’s arrival was reported by several Greek newspapers.

Four people were quickly found, but eventually nine people from the boat were registered in the Chios RIC: this means 12 people had ‘disappeared’.

Our report on the incident, on 4 July, read: ‘A boat carrying 21 people landed south of Vokaria, Chios south east before 06.00 this morning. The Hellenic coast guard tried to stop the boat from reaching land, but was not successful. They alerted police and 17 people, amongst them a newborn baby, was apprehended shortly after arrival. Four women managed to escape and contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, while they were hiding in the woods in the area. Port police on Chios denies that there have been any arrivals, even do locals have witnessed everything. Since this morning port police have searched the area by land and sea, even a helicopter have been used, but officially nothing has happened. Question is, where are the remaining 16 people, have they also, as many before them, magically disappeared, or is it more likely that the Hellenic coast guard have removed them from the island, and that they left them drifting in a life raft in the Aegean Sea? After Aegean Boat Report was contacted this morning, various steps was initiated to try to make sure the these four women’s rights was not violated by the Greek government, and that they could seek asylum in Greece, in accordance to international law and human rights.’ The rest of the report can be read at: https://www.facebook.com/285298881993223/posts/1116242815565488/?d=n

Many questions remained unanswered, especially regarding the fate of the missing 12 people from this landing.

Port police on Chios denied that there had been any arrivals, even though local residents had witnessed everything.

At 9pm, the Turkish coast guard found and rescued 10 people, eight adults and two children, from an inflatable rubber boat without an engine, outside Cesme.

Picture from Turkish coast guard

The people on the boat told Turkish authorities they had arrived on Chios, with 11 other people, were captured at gunpoint by Greek police, taken back out to sea by the Greek coast guard, and left drifting in a small rubber boat.

From pictures and videos received by Aegean Boat Report, it is clear that the people on the boat picked up by the Turkish coast guard, are the same people who were on Chios earlier that day.

So the question is, how did they end up on this engineless rubber boat, if they were not placed there by the Hellenic coast guard, and how could nine people from a boat the Greek authorities claim never arrived on Chios, be registered in the RIC on Chios?

There is no doubt what happened to this group, and who is responsible.
Aegean Boat Report have talked to several people from this pushback. Their story is similar to so many others that have encountered police, after arriving on a Greek island.

When the boat landed, police were already in the area, having been informed of its whereabouts by the Hellenic coast guard team which tried to stop them at sea.

The group were separated after arriving. Eleven people managed to hide in the surrounding areas, but 10 were caught.

The police arrested 10 people, including this new-born baby. The police officers searched them all, and took their phones, money and papers, though two people managed to hide their phones.

“We were handcuffed with plastic strips, and forced into a white bus” a young boy of 15 told Aegean Boat Report. “The police officers were very angry, pointed guns at us, shouting, I was so scared”.

Who pulls a gun on a defenceless child? It’s beyond cruel.

A woman carrying her new-born, didn’t manage to follow the other group up the hill. The police told her that they would be reunited at the quarantine camp, which was of course not true. The police had no intention of taking them to any camp, but straight back to sea.

Aegean Boat Report was informed about the alleged missing three-year-old child the following day, by his mother who had been pushed back to Turkey. She was desperately trying to find out what happened to her other child.

From this landing, two people seem to be unaccounted for: this three-year-old boy, and an adult. We hope and assume the boy is being cared for by this adult, but we do not know.

We immediately informed UNHCR about the alleged missing child, and provided them with the mother’s contact details in Turkey.

What steps have been taken by UNHCR, is somewhat unclear, but the appropriate authorities have been informed about the alleged missing boy. That authorities’ seeming reluctance to try to resolve this seems strange, especially since it involves a very small child.

The people in quarantine from this group might be able to shed light on the child’s situation, but the Greek government has as far as we know not allowed anyone, even UNHCR, to talk to the new arrivals, ‘due to COVID restrictions’.

Equally, the brutality of the Greek police, as is the case in so many pushbacks we have documented in the last 17 months, is difficult to understand: why would they need to threaten vulnerable men, women and children seeking safety in Europe, at gunpoint, use brutal force, handcuff them with plastic strips?

The 10 people the police arrested were detained on the island until the afternoon.

“They took us to a place where there was a small church, it looked like a military base,” one man said. “They kept us locked up all day, and in the afternoon they took us down to a Greek coast guard boat.”

He described the boat, as grey and white, with a Greek flag and ΛΣ-607 written on the side. The boat he described was a Lambro 57 patrol vessel belonging to the Hellenic coast guard on Chios.

All the people onboard wore dark military uniforms, their faces were covered with balaclavas, and they had guns.

A second boat was also in use, smaller, with three engines, all black, with no identification markings, only a Greek flag on top, and a machine gun mounted in the front. After looking through pictures, the boat was identified as a Rafnar 1100 Tactical patrol RIB, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard Special Forces.

The ten men, women and children, including the small baby and its mother, were taken out to sea by the Hellenic coast guard, forced at gunpoint into a small, engineless, rubber boat and left drifting in the Aegean Sea.

10 people left drifting in a rubber boat by the Hellenic coast guard

An unusual cruel and inhuman treatment of vulnerable men, women and children seeking safety in Europe.

Nor did the Greek operatives even have the decency to provide them with life jackets: if the people they forced onto the boat had ended up in the sea, they would have drowned in a matter of minutes.

Once again, people have been forcibly and violently removed from Greece. In this instance, 10 people, among them a new-born baby, were taken back to sea and forced into a small rubber boat, left drifting in the Aegean Sea by the “heroes” of the proud Hellenic coast guard.

Newborn baby abandoned at sea by the Hellenic coast guard

Violations of international laws and human rights unfortunately happens every day in Greece, on orders from the Greek government. And the rest of Europe looks the other way and pretends nothing is happening as the rights of men women and children, seeking protection are violated.

There is no longer any doubt on what’s going on in Greece, and who is responsible, this has been thoroughly documented and proven.

The people responsible for this and hundreds of other illegal pushbacks involving thousands of vulnerable men, women and children seeking decent, safe places to live and work – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi and Greek Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy Ioannis Plakiotakis – should be removed from office and charged with crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, the unwillingness by European politicians to stop these atrocities is a mockery of the European Union, and its claims to stand for decency, law and decent human standards.

“I Reject The Pushbac Concept”

On June 26 Aegean Boat Report published a report on 61 people that was stranded on the small rocky island of Fragkos, south west of Lipsi.

Published June 26 2021

What happened to this group have until now been somewhat unclear, but we assumed that they had been illegally returned to Turkey by the Hellenic coast guard, no arrivals was registered in the area.

The Hellenic coast guard claims that there was nobody on Fragkos when they arrived, after being informed that people had been stranded there for three days, by both Aegean Boat Report and Alarmphone. This is of course not tru, we have pictures, videos and geolocation data that can without a doubt place this group on Fragkos on this date, so what really happened?

At first, In fear of being pushed back, they didn’t want to inform the Greek coast guard, but after being stuck on the island for three days, Greek coast guard was informed. There was no option, without food and water they couldn’t stay on the island.

How they ended up on this small rocky island is unclear, information we have so far is that they were heading towards Italy, but the engine broke down and they drifted towards Fragkos.

At 10.30 in the morning, we were informed that a Greek coast guard vessel had arrived, and uniformed personnel from this vessel had come ashore, shortly after all contact phones went offline. This information has of course been denied by the Hellenic coast guard, because as they said “there was nobody there”, again people have magically disappeared, this seems to happen a lot in the Aegean Sea, it’s like the “Bermuda Triangle” of Europe..

The Hellenic coast guard realized that the boat they had arrived with wasn’t big enough to transport 61 people off the island, and they called to get another boat to the area.

After searching everyone, confiscating phones, ID papers and money, men, women and children were forced onto the two vessels from the Hellenic coast guard, 40 on the bigger vessel and 21 in the smaller and taken back out to sea.

In the afternoon a Turkish fishing vessel found and rescued 21 people, several of them very small children, from a life raft drifting south of Didim, Turkey. Turkish coast guard was informed, people was later transferred to a vessel from the Turkish coast guard and taken to Didim, Turkey.

At 19.00 Turkish coast guard found and rescued 40 people from two life rafts drifting south west of Didim, Turkey, not far from the Greek island of Farmakonisi. Also this group was taken to Didim, Turkey.

People from both these incidents claimed to have arrived on Fragkos, later removed from the island and forced into life rafts by the Hellenic coast guard. The Hellenic coast guard on the other hand denies any involvement, as we know, they always abbey by the rules at sea, and always put human lives first, at least if the human lives are rich tourists, or Greek national’s that is, because “these people”, they seems not to be considered humans in Greece.

This seems to be a never ending story, the Greek government are systematically violating information laws and human rights in an industrial scale, unparalleled in Europe since the time when nazis ruled. This time we can’t say “we didn’t know”, because we do, it’s proven without a doubt that the Greek government is responsible for crimes against humanity, so why don’t we care enough to stop these atrocities?

Everyone seems to be looking the other way, it’s not our problem, it’s not our people, so why should we care? The unwillingness by European politicians to act and stop these atrocities is a mockery of humanity. If it had been Europeans that had been drifting around in the Aegean Sea we would have been shouting from the rooftops, heads would have rolled and European leaders would have had to resign, but for “these people”, we couldn’t care less..

Europe for Europeans is the new slogan, we build walls, we will fight and we will kill to keep “unwanted” people out.

“I reject the pushbac concept, i reject the term. That concept, the word dosen`t exist in my vocabulary. When boat comes, we will do EVERYTHING so that the boat returnes where it came from”.

“Kyriakos Mitsotakis”

Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads

The video you are about to watch is of an illegal pushback carried out by the Greek coastguard.

It is not a ‘one-off’. It did not take place six, twelve or eighteen months ago, and now things are better.

It was just one of 491 incidents since March 2020, in which 14,720 men, women and children have been denied their fundamental human rights by a coastguard armed with assault rifles and behaving like a sea-militia ‘defending’ Greece against innocent, unarmed, and peaceful men, women and children attempting to find safe places to live.

In the morning of 10 June, a boat carrying 31 people travelled towards Kos. Closing in on Ag. Fokas, on the south east side of the island, the boat was approached by several vessels from the Hellenic coast guard, and forced back towards Turkey.

If anyone is wondering what a pushback at sea looks like, this is how it’s being carried out. And it is illegal.

Pushback Outside Kos 10.06.2021

This shocking, immoral and illegal practice has become ‘normal’ in the Aegean Sea. Greece carries it out without let or hindrance, while the EU seems unable or unwilling to act.

Human Rights in Europe are at a crossroads.

According to the Greek government and Frontex, this isn’t a pushback, but a ‘prevention of entry’.

There are two major problems with this assessment. First, under international law, no country is allowed to ‘prevent the entry’ of men, women and children not suspected of any crime (as these people are not) and who intend to apply for asylum. Even if the people in this boat had not entered Greek waters, the Greek coastguard would have broken international law, by forcibly preventing people who wish to apply for asylum, from entering Greece.

But in fact, secondly, these people had in fact already entered Greek water. It cannot be a ‘prevention of entry’ if people have already ‘entered’: it is a pushback. And it is absolutely illegal.

In the video we can hear one of the officers on the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ150, say “everyone abide by the rules, because he’s filming”. It’s disturbing that this even needed to be said. First, because what would have happened had this person not had the presence of mind, and technology, to film? What would have happened then? How would the heavily-armed coastguard have responded to these innocent, unarmed people trying to exercise their fundamental human rights? Why did this coastguard, who noticed a person filming, need to advise his colleagues to abide by the law? What did he fear they would do?

Secondly, the disturbing images we can see in this video are in fact not ‘abiding by the rules’. It appears the coastguard does not understand – or perhaps accept – the rules. This is a video of the Greek coastguard breaking the law, even as one member of the coastguard warns his colleagues not to do something even worse.

Nor is this an isolated incident.

It’s how the Hellenic coastguard – and in some cases also Frontex – have been operating for the last 15 months.

We must demand that Notis Mitarachis, and Fabrice Leggeri, are held to account for their continued, immoral, unacceptable, and illegal activity in the Aegean Sea. We must demand that the EU – or if, as increasingly seems to be the case, the EU is unwilling – the wider international community takes legal action, now, to prevent the Greek coastguard, the Greek government, Frontex and the EU, breaking international law, and shaming the whole of Europe in the process.

None of this is acceptable. None of it is even beneficial to either Greece or the EU.

The time to stop this is now. The time to act is now. The EU can and must act. If it refuses, it is time for the international court to prosecute Mitarachis, Nea Dimokratia, Leggeri, Frontex, and the European Commission. Anything else is to further damage, and indeed make a laughing stock of international law, and all our human rights.

Pushback Nr. 460

4 of June at 02.00 a boat carrying 44 people, many of them very small children, started out from Sazli, Turkey, heading towards Lesvos north.

The trip lasted for five hours, people onboard was afraid that the Greek coast guard would find them at sea and push them back, especially after first light, but luckily they managed to cross without being spotted.

44 People traveling towards Lesvos 04.06.2021

At 07.00 they landed north west of Tsonia, Lesvos north east. They destroyed the rubber boat on the beach, before they split up in several smaller groups, and fled to the woods in the area, frightened that the greek police would find them and returner them to Turkey.

44 People arriving on Lesvos 04.06.2021

Aegean Boat Report had contact with people from several of these groups, hiding in different locations in the area. Between 08.30 and 10.40 we lost contact with all the groups, we feared that they had been found by police, and that they wouldn’t take them to any camp.

Aegean Boat Report received pictures, videos and location data, there was no doubt, they had arrived on Lesvos. From pictures and videos received we can clearly see the area, several locals who knows the area have confirmed that it’s no doubt that this was north west of Tsonia.

For several days we actually didn’t know exactly what happened to them, nobody was registered as arrived on Lesvos, once again large numbers of people, many of them children, had magically disappeared.

Pictures and videos published by the Turkish coast guard several days later solved the mystery. 44 people was picked up from a life raft, drifting north west of Dikili, on June 4 at 18.40. When comparing the people in the video’s, there is no doubt, the people filmed on the ground on Lesvos was identical with the people rescued from the life raft outside Dikili.

44 People rescued by TCG outside Dikili 04.06.2021

Some people argue that they most likely have returned themselves, without any assistance from the Greek authorities, not a very plausible explanation. First they needed to find a life raft, not easy in this area I guess, then paddle with their hands over 31 nautical miles, in head winds and against the current, ah, yes, and in brought daylight without anyone noticing them, to try to get back from where they were fleeing from in the first place… I guess we can rule that one out, this was another pushback by the Hellenic coast guard.

Distance from arrival location to location picked up by TCG

Information received from people in the group, was that they were beaten, robbed of all their belongings, bags, money, phones etc. by masked men in military uniforms, before forced on a Greek coast guard vessel.

How people, who most likely have their own family, children, could do this to people, and especially small children, is beyond me. How can they look themselves in the mirror knowing that they are torturing people on a daily basis.

It’s time for European politicians to take off their blindfolds, it’s time to see that what is going on on the borders of Europe is a crime against humanity, to say “we didn’t know” is no longer an option.We must stop pretending that this doesn’t concern us, that’s it’s “their” rights that are being violated, not ours.

It is an attack on us all: when a government strips a Somali teen, a Syrian child, an Iraqi man, an Afghan woman of their human rights, you have to know that they are reserving the right to do the same to you, to your son, daughter, brother, sister, parents, grandfather and grandmother.

Those rights belong to us all: once they are taken from one of us, they can be taken from us all. It must stop. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to this – the disgrace of Europe. Instead, we must stand, together, and demand better: from our governments, from the EU, from the international community.

The Greek government must stop pretending to ‘know nothing’ about a practice which is clearly its policy. It must stop pretending that every NGO operating in Greece, as well as the UN, international media and the European Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, are in fact somehow ‘employees of’ or collaborators in, Turkish ‘propaganda’.

It must, immediately – as Greece’s Ombudsman has concluded and demands – open public and accessible investigations into the actions of its own uniformed officers in illegally expelling men, women and children seeking decent places to live.

It must end this shameful, illegal, dehumanising, embarrassing and unacceptable practice.

Pushback Nr. 451

On May 28, at around 6am, a boat that was reported to have been carrying 54 people, 37 adults and 17 children, landed north of Panagiouda, Lesvos south around 06.00.

It later became clear that in fact the boat had been carrying 49 people.

Boat carrying 49 people towards Lesvos 28.05.2021

Immediately after arrival, they split into two groups and hid in woods in the area, scared that they would be found by police and illegally returned to Turkey.

A farmer in the area spotted one of the groups early in the morning, and called the police. The police located 32 people, and took them away in the back of a white van.

None of these people were registered in the quarantine camps on Lesvos, either on 28 May or any subsequent day. “We were ordered to give away all our belongings, clothes, bags, phones and money, those who refused were beaten”, one of the group explained.

Everyone was searched, some more brutally and extensively than others, men, women and even children, they all got the same treatment. When the police found some phones the people had hidden, they got very angry, again hitting the people who had tried to hide the phones from them.

There were 12 port police officers present. Most of them were wearing masks, the ones without stayed at a distance.

A white van arrived and everyone was ordered into the back, leaving all their belongings behind. The back of the van had no windows.

The van drove for around five minutes, and arrived at a beach, when a similar white van arrived. The group was transferred into the second van – 32 people packed in, without any ventilation.

The next journey took more than an hour: “We didn’t get any food or water, not even the children or women”, the same person said. “It was a hot day.”

They arrived at another beach, the location of which they didn’t know. All they could see was trees and the sea.

After 30 minutes, they saw a big grey military vessel approaching. Two RIBs were launched, and moved quickly towards the beach, where the police stood over the people.

The men in the rescue RIBs searched everyone, again. These men were wearing dark blue uniforms, with no distinguishing features. They were wearing balaclavas and carrying guns.

The group was split in two, and placed on the RIBs, which moved at high speed towards the Greek coast guard vessel waiting a few kilometres from land.

The speedboats took them to a larger grey military vessel.

The group could not look at the boat properly, in part because if they looked up they were hit with batons from behind. The men in balaclavas constantly screamed: “Look down and shut up,” terrifying the men, women and children.

The group said the boat was grey, with blue and white stripes in the front, and carried the Greek flag.

Everyone was placed outside in the front of the boat, they were not allowed to talk or look up, the officers were constantly screaming, and those who didn’t obey were beaten again.

The coast guard vessel has not been positively identified, but after looking at several pictures, the group said it was similar to the Vosper Europatrol 250MK1 class offshore patrol vessel of the Hellenic coast guard.

They were onboard for several hours, in which time the Hellenic coast guard vessel took them towards Turkey.

When the boat stopped, they were forced into a life raft, and an RIB that was lowered from the coast guard vessel was used to tow the life raft into Turkish waters.

At 1pm, the Turkish coastguard found the life raft, with the 32 people aboard, drifting close to Cesme, Turkey. The people onboard said they had been drifting for two hours.

These people had been forcibly removed from Lesvos, left drifting in a life raft in the Aegean Sea, illegally deported by the Hellenic coast guard.

The second group of people – the 17 who were not illegally pushed back from Lesvos to Turkey – walked to Panagiouda, and were found by police around 2pm. Several local people had seen them next to the main road and called the police.

The police transported the 17 people, 4 adults and 13 children, to the quarantine camp in Maurovouni.

From pictures and videos taken from the boat before they arrived on Lesvos, we can clearly see that it carried considerably more than 17 people.

There is also no doubt that they arrived on land on Lesvos, since seventeen of the people from the boat are now in the quarantine camp on Lesvos.

But the rest – 32 people – are back in Turkey. From pictures and videos taken from the boat that arrived on Lesvos, Aegean Boat Report have identified several people who also appear in the footage published later by the Turkish coast guard, of the group they picked up on the life raft outside Cesme. There is no doubt that these are the same people.

Life raft carrying 32 people rescued by Turkish coast guard.

There is also no doubt who is behind this illegal deportation.

We say increasingly often that these pushbacks are illegal. This is true under international law, to which Greece is a signatory. It is true under EU law, which Greece as a member state has also signed up. It is also true under Greek law, as the Greek government is well aware.

We cannot and will not state that this is connected to pushbacks, but it is extremely interesting to note that as increasing numbers of Greek and international organisations, the EU Council, the United Nations and the independent Greek Ombudsman demand that the Greek government at least allows the legal system to hear cases of alleged pushbacks of men, women and children by uniformed Greek officers, the Ministry of Migration issued on Tuesday a memo threatening any Ministry employee not to testify in court in any hearing related to alleged Ministry wrongdoing.

We do not know whether or when these extremely serious and important allegations will be heard by the Greek judiciary, but we do note with concern that it is illegal to threaten witnesses to prevent them testifying in court.

We hope that should any cases be heard, the court will dismiss the memo, and allow legal due process to take place.

Any alternative would be not only to undermine the fundamental rights of every person on Earth – as is being done every time a pushback is carried out – but also the legal rights and protections of the Greek public, and indeed the very foundations on which the Greek state is built.

These are som of the people who was illegaly pushed back from Lesvos on May 28 by the Hellenic Coast Guard, picture is taken in Izmir, Tyrkey May 30. It`s not statistics or numbers, It`s real people.

Some of the pushback victims May 30, Izmir, Turkey.

It MUST be stopped!

The illegal Practice Continues

In the early hours of Sunday 16 May, a rubber boat set out from Cumhuriyet, Seferihisar, Turkey, carrying 32 people, nine children, seven women and 16 men.

After several hours at sea, they approached the island of Samos. In the videos they sent us, we can clearly see Samos in the background.

Samos 16.05.2021

While approaching the island, they took several videos and sent them to Aegean Boat Report, to try to document their arrival on Samos.

Samos 16.05.2021

At 7.30am, they landed on Kouroudere beach, east of Ag. Nikolaos, Samos north west. From the pictures, videos and location data, there is no doubt that the group arrived on Samos.

Samos 16.05.2021

Shortly after they landed, several cars with police officers arrived. They all pulled on balaclavas, before heading down towards the group. A witness counted 11 officers: 10 men and one woman.

Everyone in the group was forcibly frisked, and the police seized their personal belongings, papers, money and phones. Those who resisted were brutally beaten by uniformed officers, according to one of the new arrivals.

After everyone was thoroughly searched, the officers put the travellers into a white van, and drove for over one hour, to an unknown destination. There was no window in the back of the van, and no food or water were provided, not even for the small children.

They arrived in a port, and the only thing they could see was a concrete pier, and an orange and blue boat with the number 513 written on the side. One said that he could see many houses in the distance, but he was forced to look down by the police. When anyone looked up, the officers beat the people with batons.

They were pushed onto a boat, which moved quickly out to sea.

The people were placed in the front of the boat, outside, and anyone who tried to talk or who raised their head was beaten. The officers onboard were standing above the people, guarding them, all wearing balaclavas. There was a lot of shouting to keep people quiet, and one man described it as ‘terrifying’, especially for the small children, who cried because they couldn’t understand what was happening: how could they?

 Lambro Halmatic 60, SAR vessel Nr 513, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, stationed on Samos

After a period that seemed like an hour, the boat stopped. Something was happening at the back of the boat, but the people weren’t able to see what. Two men came to the deck and shouted “get up, get up!” Everyone did as they were told. One by one, they were taken in the back of the boat. ‘We could hear officers shouting and women and children screaming,’ the man said. ‘It was a true nightmare.’

The people were forced into a strange tent-shaped rubber “boat”. Anyone who refused to get in was brutally beaten, and thrown in. They said that they could only see five officers on deck, in dark blue uniforms and balaclavas, but there were probably more people inside.

‘In only a few minutes, the Greek ship went away,’ the man explained. ‘We were left drifting in the sea. I was scared, everyone was. We had no phones and we couldn’t call for help.’

Later that day, two life rafts carrying 32 people, nine children, seven women and 16 men, were picked up by the Turkish coast guard south west of Seferihisar, Turkey. From videos and pictures, there is no doubt these are the same people who earlier that day had arrived on Samos.

In this video, published by the Turkish coast guard, we can see a Lambro Halmatic 60, SAR vessel Nr 513, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, stationed on Samos. They deploy two life rafts filled with 32 people, many of them small children, and leave in great haste.

Video from TCG 16.05.2021 Seferihisar, Turky

So how can the Greek government continue to deny having any involvement in pushbacks, when we have seen vessels from the Hellenic Coast Guard, over and over again, actively and illegally deporting men, women and children in the Aegean Sea?

It’s time for European politicians to take off their blindfolds, it’s time to see that what is going on on the borders of Europe is a crime against humanity. To say “we didn’t know” is no longer an option. We must stop pretending that this doesn’t concern us, that’s it’s “their” rights that are being violated, not ours.

The Hellenic coast guard performing illegal pushbacks in the Aegean Sea

It is an attack on us all: when a government strips a Somali teen, a Syrian child, an Iraqi man, an Afghan woman of their human rights, you have to know they are reserving the right to do the same to you, to your son, daughter, brother, sister, parents, grandfather and grandmother.

Those rights belong to us all: once they are taken from one of us, they can be taken from us all. It must stop. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to this – the disgrace of Europe. Instead, we must stand, together, and demand better: from our governments, from the EU, from the international community.

The Greek government must stop pretending to ‘know nothing’ about a practice which is clearly its policy. It must stop pretending that every NGO operating in Greece, as well as the UN, international media and the European Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, are in fact somehow ‘employees of’ or collaborators in, Turkish ‘propaganda’.

It must, immediately – as Greece’s Ombudsman has concluded and demands – open public and accessible investigations into the actions of its own uniformed officers in illegally expelling men, women and children seeking decent places to live.

It must end this shameful, illegal, dehumanising, embarrassing and unacceptable practice.

Fifty-three more men, women and children have been lied to, beaten and expelled from Greece by uniformed police officers who told them they would be taken for COVID testing and quarantine.

At 9am on 26 April, a boat carrying 53 people landed on Agios Theodorous beach, east of Korakas, in north Lesvos. Thirty-five of the 53 travelling people were reported to be children. The group contacted Aegean Boat Report so their arrival could be documented.

Boat carrying 53 people towards Lesvos north
Arrival Location Lesvos North East

They reported no medical needs, and because of this and the Greek government’s policy of illegally pushing men, women and children away from Greece’s borders, we did not inform the port police.

Arrivals on Lesvos north 26.04.2021

Instead, we advised the group to move together towards the village of Klio, so the villagers could see their arrival. Pictures, videos and location data received by the Aegean Boat Report show their presence on Lesvos: there is no doubt they arrived.

Due to the high number of very small children in the group, and three pregnant women, they moved slowly forward. They frequently sent their location, and they could also be followed on live location that was active. We received their pictures and videos while they moved towards the village.

We could draw up this rout from locasions sent over whatsapp

A local person saw the new arrivals while walking towards Klio, and informed the port police of their whereabouts. Those police found the first people from the group on a dirt track at around 13.30, and from then it took them around one hour to round up all the 53 arrivals.

The police told the group they would be taken to a quarantine camp for COVID testing. Information from the arrivals had been sent to us from six different phone numbers. Between 13.37 and 14.23, all went offline. This could of course be a coincidence: they might all have run out of battery, or lost internet coverage. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The port police officers confiscated all their phones, so the group could not record what was about to happen.

We monitored quarantine camps’ information on arrivals, to see if the police had taken them to quarantine in Megala Therma or Kara Tepe. No information was registered during the afternoon or the following night. At this point, it was still possible that the port police on Lesvos had no plans to take them to the quarantine camp, as indeed they should have done.

A port police bus, filled with men, women and children thought by the observer to be refugees, was seen driving through Klio. The observer, a resident of the village, said he had seen this bus many times before, and it was used to transport new arrivals to the camps.

The bus was escorted by two police cars. The observer was unsure where it went.

The people on the bus, however, reported that they were taken to a port., where they were forced on a grey military vessel. Those who refused were beaten by men in dark uniforms wearing black balaclavas.

It was dark when the vessel set out, and after what seemed to be hours the boat stopped, and everyone was forced into a huge life raft. Once again, those who did not go willingly were beaten.

One man, a father with two small children, described the situation as ‘unreal’: ‘Children and women were screaming,’ he said. ‘People were beaten by men in uniform, who looked like commandos. Some of them were behaving like savages, it was a true nightmare.’

After hours drifting at sea, the group was found and rescued by the Turkish coast guard north of Kusadasi, Turkey.

The Turkish coastguard reported that ‘more than 30’ of the people on the boat were children, while pictures and videos we received while the group was on Lesvos, confirms it included many children. When we compare pictures from Lesvos with the pictures provided by the Turkish coast guard, of the moment they were found in the life raft drifting north of Kusadasi, there is no doubt it’s the same group.

Life raft picked up outside Kusadasi 26.04.2021

And yet despite the clear evidence, which also proves that the group was on Lesvos, port police will no doubt once again claim they have ‘no knowledge’ of anyone arriving in this area, and anyone claiming otherwise are ‘pushing fake news’. We would simply ask how they can explain the pictures, geolocation data or testimonies.

It’s difficult to believe that any reasonable people could find it in their hearts to drag more than 30 children back out to sea and dump them in life rafts in the dark, but this is the reality: this happened and as in so many cases before it, we have the evidence.

Whenever confronted with these documented facts, Greek officials deny having anything to do with it, ‘it wasn’t us, our coast guard is acting according international laws and regulations,’ they say.

We know this is incorrect. That at best they are being deliberately kept in the dark about their own uniformed officers’ activities, and at worst, they are deliberately lying. But it seems as if, increasingly, no-one cares. It’s almost as if they think ‘it’s not Europeans, it’s not our people, so who cares?’

And the Greek government simply continues to deny any involvement in these atrocities.

A few days ago the Greek minister of migration and asylum, Notis Mitarachi once again said: ‘our country guards it’s maritime borders with full respect for international law, and everyone knows that.’

But who does he mean when he says ‘everyone’? Everyone who pays any attention, who is there or knows people who are, knows he’s lying.

Since March 2020, 231 life rafts have been found drifting in the Aegean Sea: not one of them came from a shipwreck. The Greek government claims it is the victim of Turkish propaganda, that organisations, international newspapers and TV stations are all tools of the Turkish government: it’s obviously not the case.

The Greek government dismisses thousands of victim statements, pictures and videos filmed by the refugees themselves showing vessels from the Hellenic coast guard performing these violations, as ‘fake news’.

We must ask how far the Greek government can go and still get away with it. More worryingly, how far are they willing to go?

What will it take to wake the rest of Europe up? One dead child did not do it, four men handcuffed and left to drown by the Greek coastguard did not do it, so what could possibly happen? What are we prepared to accept?

One of these days we will have a major accident with these life rafts, would pictures of dead children tangled up in ropes from these life rafts be enough to wake EU politicians up?

These violations of international law and human rights has been going on for far too long, blessed and financed by Europe. NATO and FRONTEX have massive presence in the Aegean Sea. It is impossible that they do not know what is happening here. So, when will someone do something? For how long is Greece going to be allowed to carry out these unjustified, illegal, and dangerous acts, and for how long will the EU and the rest of the world pretend not to see it?

Please share this with your friends, let them know what is happening on Europe’s ‘doorstep’. And if you want to help, please contact your representative in Europe, with letters/e-mails available from: https://www.koraki.org/end-pushbacks 

One child wasn`t enough..

Pushbacks is no longer even the “new normal”: it is just “normal”

Fifty-one people on a boat north east of Korakas, Lesvos north were stopped by the Greek coastguard and towed from Greek waters on 14 April. Some of the people aboard called Aegean Boat Report at 7.30am. They were screaming on the phone, begging for help.

Pushback Lesvos 14.04.2021

The videos and pictures they sent us clearly showed that the boat towing them was a Lambro-57 coastal patrol boat, identification number LS-609. It belongs to the Greek coast guard, and is stationed on Lesvos.

Aegean Boat Report received several locations over Whatsapp, both regular and live location, from three different phones. At this point, the boat was 1.6km from land on Lesvos. From the pictures the people sent us, we could clearly see Korakas in the background. The boat was definitely deep inside Greek territory waters, but still it was pushed back, even though this is absolutely illegal.

In direct breach of international law, these people were forcibly deported by the Greek coast guard.

The direct voice contact was lost for several hours, but Aegean Boat Report could still follow the boat’s live location, as it was towed slowly north, away from Lesvos towards Behram, Turkey.

The Turkish coast guard was informed of their location and the people were eventually found and picked up.

Two days later, 16 April, Aegean Boat Report received another emergency call from a boat carrying 48 people in the same area.

A small RIB, carrying three men wearing balaclavas, had stopped them at sea and destroyed their engine.

While Aegean Boat Report spoke on the phone with the people whose boat had been attacked and vandalised, they were being towed back towards Turkish waters. They sent us several videos in which we can clearly see a RIB carrying three men in balaclavas towing the rubber boat. The boat used in this incident is smaller than previously used boats we have seen, and so far we have not been able to identify it, or the men onboard.

Pushback Lesvos 16.04.2021

The people who were attacked explained that after the men cut the rope, and left them drifting, the small boat carrying the three disguised men headed back in the direction of Lesvos at high speed.

In recent weeks, the Greek Minister of Migration & Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, has boasted in several interviews about the Greek government’s ‘border management policy’.

He said: “In 2021, flows have decreased by 89% on our island compared to 2020”.

Though this boast was carried by a number of media outlets, no-one appears to have asked, and Mr Mitarachis has not said anything about, how this was ‘achieved’.

Whenever confronted with questions about its border management issues, the Greek government proclaims that it has a “fair but strict border management policy”, and that they follow international regulations, laws, and human rights.

I guess if you go on record on international TV saying “we are doing nothing wrong” you have to stick to that line, but at some point it’s just futile to continue denying it.

It’s proven without any doubt that the Greek government is systematically deporting people who want to apply for asylum in Greece.

Since March last year, more than 12.000 men, woman and children, have been pushed back in the Aegean Sea, their right to apply for asylum denied by the Greek government.

A year ago, pushbacks in the Aegean Sea became headlines in the international press. The pushbacks then were usually performed under cover of darkness, so that nobody could see what was going on.

The Greek government of course denied any involvement, and most people found it difficult to believe that Greece could perform such outrages.

Today, we are long past the question “who is behind these pushbacks?”.

We have seen too many videos of Greek coast guard vessels towing rubber dinghies and inflatable life rafts, testimonies from victims and investigations to be fooled by the continuous denials by the Greek government. Even so, they still deny it.

But, perhaps because even the most blatant of crimes is no longer news if it is committed often enough, pushbacks no longer seem to make headlines in international media. It has become the new ‘normal’, performed in broad daylight, and even if we can see it happening, every single day, for some strange reason we can still hear Greek officials continue to deny being involved.

Just a few days ago, we spoke to a reporter for a story about this illegal practice. She asked us “did anybody die?” This is not a criticism of ‘the media’ alone. It reflects people’s interests and priorities at least as much as it shapes them. But we have to ask, is this where we are now? In a situation in which the consistent mass breaking of international law, stripping men, women and children – and in fact every single person on the planet – of their fundamental human rights, is only news if someone dies in the process? And of course people have died as a result of pushbacks.

On 19 March 2021, less than five weeks ago, four men drowned when the Greek coastguard handcuffed them and set them adrift on the Aegean Sea, according to a report from Turkish coast guard.

Video published by TCG

In 2020, the current Greek government’s first full year in charge of Greece’s ‘border policy’, one in every 93 people who tried to reach Greece by sea, died. The worst death-rate in the recorded history of people movement on the Aegean Sea.

Statistics from UNHCR data portal

We ask again, is this now where we are? Where the law is broken with impunity, in broad daylight, where people drowned, in handcuffs, five weeks ago, where the Greek government has ‘achieved’ the highest ever death-rate on its coast, and we still ask “yes, but has anyone died recently?”?

We have published hundreds of pushback reports over the last year. Since March 2020, we have documented 410 pushback cases involving 12.266 people. In the same period, 130 life rafts have been found drifting in the Aegean Sea, carrying over 3,700 people.

This is no longer even the “new normal”: it is just “normal”. There can be few more damning indictments of Europe and its people than that this is how we behave: risking and causing people to die, by attacking them, and denying them their fundamental human rights.

It is an attack on us all: when a government strips a Somali teen, a Syrian child, an Iraqi man, an Afghan woman of their human rights, you have to know that they are reserving the right to do the same to you, to your son, daughter, brother, sister, parents, grandfather and grandmother.

Those rights belong to us all: once they are taken from one of us, they can be taken from us all. It must stop. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to this – the disgrace of Europe. Instead, we must stand, together, and demand better: from our governments, from the EU, from the international community.