Robbed, Beaten And Abused

Forty-four men, women and children were robbed, beaten and abused before being set adrift on the open sea in the latest outrage carried out by uniformed Greek operatives.

And the ‘crime’ committed by these 44 people, to justify their horrifying experience at the hands of people who are paid to save and safeguard human lives? Nothing at all. They were simply attempting to find a safe place to live, learn and work.

At 11.48pm (EET) on 14 November, 44 people on a sailboat in distress, north west of Stavri, Peloponnese, contacted Aegean Boat Report.

The smuggler who had sailed the boat from Turkey towards Italy had abandoned them after the boat’s engine malfunctioned, leaving them drifting helplessly dangerously close to the cliffs in the area.
The weather was rough: heavy wind and waves were pushing the boat towards land. The situation was critical.

Aegean Boat Report told the passengers to contact emergency services on 112 immediately, and at the same time we called the Ministry of Shipping & Island Policy in Piraeus.

The call was immediately rerouted to the emergency call centre of the Hellenic coast guard.

Usually, a distress call to any emergency service in Europe doesn’t take more than a minute: information is provided, some questions are asked about who is calling, the location, situation etc., and help is on its way.

When calling the Hellenic coast guard on cases involving refugees in distress, however, the situation is quite different.

They are normally more interested in who you are and how you know something is happening, than in the emergency you are trying to help with, wasting precious time when you have none to spare.

It took me 10 minutes to make this call, and most of the questions the operator asked were about me, not the emergency I was desperately trying to get help for.

In many calls I have made over the years to the Hellenic coast guard to alert them about emergencies at sea, it’s not only the time waisted in pointless interrogations that is frustrating: in many cases SAR operations are deliberately delayed for hours, and people drown as a result.

In this case they actually responded. At 01.40am, people onboard the sailboat told Aegean Boat Report that rescue had arrived, and sent several videos of a Lambro 57 coastal patrol boat with search lights in front of them, belonging to the port police in Kalamáta.

Normally, Aegean Boat Report doesn’t intervene in this sort of situation. But because of the dramatic situation and the imminent threat the boat might crash into the nearby cliffs, I made a call to assist, to try to get this sailboat to a safer location to avoid unnecessary loss of life.

The boat was dangerously close to the rocky peninsula at the sheltered bay of Mezapos north from the Cape Cavo Grosso of Mani, at one point only fifty meters from the cliffs.

The wind and waves coming from the west pushed the boat towards the peninsula, and the people onboard were panicking.

In the dark, without lights, it’s very difficult to navigate these waters, even for a skilled sailor. To get people who had never been on a sailboat before, with poor English skills, listening to instructions over the phone, to guide the boat to safety, seemed like an impossible undertaking.

Perhaps we had help from above, that someone took pity on these desperate souls, who knows, but they managed to clear the cape, and move the sailboat into the sheltered bay of Mezapos and set anchor.

Here, they waited to be rescued: to take the sailboat towards land was too dangerous, underwater rocky outcrops in the area could have capsized the boat.

For one hour people onboard waited for rescue, sent out from Kalamáta, 33 nautical miles away.

For a Lambro 57, this journey would take 45 minutes under perfect conditions and at max speed of 50 knots. In this specific case I believe that the Hellenic coast guard actually did their job, getting to location as fast as they could. But what followed is unfortunately a different story.

The Hellenic coast guard did not transfer the people onto their vessel. Instead, at 3am, they started towing the sailboat towards Kalamáta.

The weather wasn’t good, and the people on the sailboat were given no information about what was happening. They were scared of what would happen to them.

For the next six hours, two vessels from HCG towed the sailboat towards Kalamáta.

Aegean Boat Report had contact with the group throughout the night.

Several times while they were being towed, the rope used was destroyed, but at 9am they arrived in the Gulf of Kalamáta.

The people onboard had still not received any information from HCG on what would happen to them.

At 10.45 am, on 15 November, the people on the boat told Aegean Boat Report that a larger Greek coast guard vessel had arrived alongside them. Soon after, all contact with the group was lost, and the number used has been offline since.

That we lost contact with the people onboard the sailboat could just be them running out of power on their phones after a long night, but we found it worrying that this happened at the same time as a vessel from the Hellenic coast guard arrived alongside the boat.

We took comfort in the fact that HCG had responded to the emergency call rather quickly, and that they had towed the sailboat for six hours, 33 nautical miles, from Mezapos to Kalamáta, seemingly towards a port of safety.

Several days passed, and we weren’t able to reconnect with the group, which seemed suspicious because normally if people are taken to a camp, they recharge their phones.

There was also no information suggesting that people had been taken into Kalamáta, an area in which this kind of activity would usually make some headlines.

On Wednesday morning, 17 November, we made some inquiries, first to HCG headquarters in Piraeus, then port police in Kalamáta. Strangely, both said the same thing: they had no information on record of an incident outside Mezapos, and HCG had towed no boat to Kalamáta on the day in question, or the following days.

This confirmed our suspicion. People from this boat had been pushed back.

On 16 November, the Turkish coast guard published a case about 44 people found drifting in two life rafts outside Datcha, Turkey.

The photos the Turkish coastguard published were of too low quality to be useful, and a request was sent to see if they could provide additional footage.

It was actually difficult to believe that anyone would go to such lengths to push people back, to transport people across the Aegean Sea, over 600km, but we continued searching for them, in hope that we could figure out what really happened.

On 19 November, a number previously active on Whatsapp from the sailboat outside Kalamáta came online again.

We could finally get information about what really happened to this group, and what this man told us was just horrific.

In the morning of 15 November, a vessel from the Hellenic coast guard arrived and pulled up alongside the sailboat outside Kalamáta.

On the HCG vessel’s deck was a large group of armed masked men, in commando-like outfits with no officer numbers or other markings. They shouted that everyone had to come out of the boat, keep their hands up and be quiet.

They started transferring people from the sailboat at gunpoint, one by one, frisking everyone, removing their bags, taking papers, phones and money. Everything they found was confiscated.
This was done by force, shouting, hitting people who didn’t follow their instructions, even those who did everything they asked were beaten, including women and children. Nobody was spared. “They were taking special interest in the women, ripping up their clothes in front of everyone”, the man said. ‘It was just a nightmare. I thought they were going to kill us.’

After everyone was onboard the coast guard ship, a 12 hour-long nightmare started.

People were abused, men and women were randomly removed from the group, beaten and brought back. The “commandos” had them guarded at all times, at gunpoint, and no-one was allowed to speak, or even look up.

No food or water was provided, even for the children. Everything was done to make this as hard as humanly possible for these people.

After more than 12 hours onboard the coast guard vessel everyone was forced into two life rafts. Those who refused were beaten and kicked. This is inhuman treatment by any standard, but they are only following orders, right? Why not enjoy it while doing so?

The idea is probably that if they treat them inhumanly enough, this will scare off others, and fewer people will try to cross the borders into Greece.

After hours drifting helplessly in the Aegean Sea in two life rafts, they were spotted by a Turkish fishing boat, and the Turkish coast guard was alerted.

At 6am 44 people, 41 Afghans, 2 Ukranians and 1 Iranian were found on the water outside Datcha, Turkey.

The people onboard the life rafts had no way to alert rescue services themselves, as all their phones had been confiscated by the Hellenic coast guard.

From pictures and videos provided from the people onboard the sailboat, there is absolutely no doubt that it was the same people who was found and picked up from two life rafts outside Datcha.

The problem is, we keep writing about incidents like this. And we will continue to do so until they stop happening.

We note that the law is extraordinarily-clear: every man, woman and child on Earth is absolutely entitled to travel to anywhere they want to, with or without paperwork, in order to apply for asylum.

The country that they reach must allow them to enter, and must treat their asylum applications with seriousness and care – even if they choose in the end to deny them the right to remain.

But cases like this go way beyond conversations about international law – however simple and clear those laws might be.

Because what the Greek government is doing – with the full backing on the European Union – is using its coastguard, which is supposed to rescue and protect people, instead to beat them, steal their possessions, humiliate and abuse them, before setting them adrift on the open sea.

You do not need to be an expert on international – or any other kind of – law to know that this is illegal, or indeed that it is wrong.

We are living through a period in which in the EU’s south-easternmost corner, a life-saving service has been replaced with uniformed thugs. An emergency response operation has become a militia.

Should the human race survive long enough, people will look back at this and ask: ‘How?’ How could the wealthiest political unit ever to have existed have sunk to such depths that it would allow one of its member states to savage vulnerable men, women and children in this way?

How was a government allowed to pervert a life-saving service and turn it into a violent sea militia?
And how did people stand by and let it happen?

Because that is what is happening. It is happening now, on our ‘watch’. And we will be correctly judged as inhuman if we keep sitting back and letting it continue.

Have We Learned Nothing From Our Previous Mistakes?

In the early hours of Saturday, 20 November, a boat carrying 34 people landed north east of Ákra Agreliós, Lesvos south. Immediately after arriving, the group hid in the woods in the surrounding area, afraid that if found by police, they would return them illegally to Turkey.

At 04.45 they contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, asking for help, they had nobody they could trust, and asked for advice on how to be taken to a camp, they wanted to apply for asylum.

In the following hours they provide pictures, videos, voice messages and location data, to document their presence on Lesvos, there was no doubt that they in fact was on the island.

At 10.31 the Greek Helsinki Monitor sent an email to the authorities, UNHCR, the Greek Ombudsman and NGOs to inform of their presence, and that the new arrivals wanted to apply for asylum. Their location was not reviled, to avoid that they were found by police and removed from the island, hopefully someone would intervene, unfortunately this did not happen.

Throughout the day and afternoon Aegean Boat Report had contact with the group, they had now split up, only 19 people, 4 children, 5 women and 10 men remained from the original 34, where the remaining 15 people had gone they didn’t know.

At 21.30 the group started moving north, away from a location they found to be unsafe, due to the inhabitants close to their hideout. Walking in the woods in the dark, is difficult, especially when you do not know the area, and can’t use any lights in fear of being spotted by police.

The group walked most of the night, and at first light they contacted Aegean Boat Report again, this time, at 06.45 on Sunday morning, gave a new location, this time south west of Agrilia Kratigou. The group had found five people who had left them the day before, now they were 23 people, 4 children, 4 women and 15 men. One of the women in the group had left at night in the dark, leaving her child behind, she was not seen again.

Throughout Sunday the group walked north until they found a dirt track south west of the Airport at 20.30. They started following this road west, and at 22.42 Aegean Boat Report received a new location, this time close to the Church Ekklisia Panagia Amáli.

Aegean Boat Report had tried to advise them not to walk further away from populated areas, from the first time they made contact. We firmly believe that their best chances to avoid illegal pushbacks, is to be seen by locals. This group constantly did the opposite of what we advised them to do, to scared to even trust the people they had asked to help them. Now they were in the middle of the woods, far away from the eyes of the public, and by doing so in more danger than ever before.

The church is a well known landmark on Lesvos, and they sent several pictures of them in front of the Church, it would now be extremely difficult to deny their presence on the island, or impossible. If found and returned illegally, it would be difficult for local authorities to say that they had found no people at this church, nevertheless they did.

At Monday morning, November 22, 06.20, Aegean Boat Report spoke with the group. They were hiding in the woods close to the church, they could see a car pulling up in front of the church, they believed it was the police. At 07.09 all contact with the group was lost, and the phones haven’t been turned on since.

After several days on Lesvos, hiding in the woods, with no support, no food and water, we hoped that the group had been found with the intention to take them to a safe place, provide support and be given the opportunity to apply for asylum, unfortunately this didn’t happen.

At 03.55 am, on November 23, the Turkish coast guard found and rescued 23 people, 4 children, 4 women and 15 men from a life raft drifting outside Seferihisar, Turkey. They all claimed to have been on Lesvos for several days, before being arrested by Greek police and taken back out to sea.

From one single picture published by the Turkish coast guard, we can positively identify 12 people from the group that had arrived on Lesvos on November 20, this was the group we had followed for two days.

Comparing pictures, identifying people, is many times difficult and time consuming, often because of the quality of the material provided. This time it was actually quite straight forward, due to the fact that the group had constantly sent pictures of themselves and their surroundings.

From the group of 34, 23 people, men, women and children had been forcibly removed from a Greek island, robbed of all belongings, bags, papers, money and phones, taken onboard a Greek coast guard vessel and left drifting in a life raft by the Hellenic coast guard. To be able to perform these atrocities the Greek coast guard would need a special kind of people, cruel and sadistic, without remorse, the kind of people who we thought we never would see again in Europe after the Second World War, but her we are again, it seems that we have learned nothing from our previous mistakes.

The remaining 11 people from this group we believe mostly have been registered in Maurovouni quarantine facility on Lesvos, two arrived on Monday and eight on Wednesday, all by walking directly to the camp. The missing mother from the group we have no information on so far. An additional 16 people was registered on Wednesday from a separate landing. Strangely enough the Greek government seems to have listed all 26 as arrived in camp on Wednesday, and nobody the previous days, for what reasons, besides incompetence, we don`t know.

Information sent out to UNHCR and the Greek Ombudsman had zero effect, the group even tried to send messages directly to the Greek UNHCR Protection Helpline, they didn’t get any reply, they were met with silence. What UNHCR Greece is protecting is difficult to say, most likely their fat salaries, but certainly not vulnerable people seeking protection.

This case was published by Aegean Boat Report, Greek Helsinki Monitor and local newspapers, it was online on websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, seen by thousands of people, hundreds of NGOs, many who are present on Lesvos, but nobody stepped up, nobody intervened, this is shocking. Where are the organizations claiming to be “monitoring the borders”, protecting vulnerable people, and what practical significance do they have, besides posting statistics and big words in fancy reports now and then? Whenever they are called upon to actually do some work, to actually get their hands dirty, they act like headless chickens, running around without any purpose or meaning, in my book they are a joke, and should probably close down their operation, they are actually doing more harm than good. The organizations founded on the pillars to protect the most vulnerable people, turner’s their back every single day on the very people they were supposed to protect in the first place, with the excuses of “protecting” their operation. Unfortunately these “operations” are often done in a way that brings in huge funds, especially for the organizations founders, who have fancy titles and a salary that matches the title.

Once again, people have been forcibly and violently removed from Greece. In this instance, 23 people, men, women and children, were taken back to sea and forced into a small life raft, left drifting in the Aegean Sea by the “heroes” of the proud 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.

Good Night Kyriakos, EU Loves You

A group of approximately 30 people that arrived on Kos during the night, was found and arrested by police at first light this morning. Instead of taking them to a quarantine facility, they were taken to Kos port, and back to sea by the Hellenic coast guard(HCG).

Exactly what boat they used to transport them away from Kos is so far not determined, from what little footage we received, we can only be sure that the vessel was grey. From the video we can see some distinguished details on the boat, and for a investigative journalist it would be possible to find this boat on Kos. Unfortunately local Journslist on most of the Aegean islands are more interested investing their own bellybutton, than anything related to disappearing refugees, Kos is no different.

To geolocate the video from the typography of the mountains in the background shouldn’t be to difficult, and will prove that what is on the video is the south east side of Kos.

What on the other hand is quite interesting in this very short video, is that the people are, for some reason, sitting under a white tarpaulin. It could of course be that the kind and caring officers of the Hellenic coast guard wanted to protect the people from the harsh weather, before throwing them into life rafts, but doesn’t sound very likely. We believe that people were placed under this white tarpaulin so that local spectators couldn’t see what the coast guard was transporting, since the boat was heading out of Kos harbor at 10.00 Greek time. But if locals now remember that they actually observed this vessel from HCG, and wondered what they were transporting, under this white tarpaulin, here’s the answer, people.

Usually the Hellenic coast guard is quite thorough when removing especially phones from people they are planing on pushing back, this time they they overlooked at least one. Aegean Boat Report received videos and location data when they were taken out from Kos harbor by HCG, later a second video and location after they had been abandoned in two life rafts, helplessly drifting inside Turkish waters south east of Kos.

From voice messages sent to Aegean Boat Report after they had been left drifting in the life rafts, it is quite clear who was responsible.

This is unfortunately happening every single day in the Aegean Sea, so far this year over 14.000 people have been pushed back by the Hellenic coast guard, on direct orders from the Greek government, a government who still denies any involvement in pushbacks, but admits “turning people in boats around in Greek waters, and sending them back to Turkey”, as if it’s something different than a pushback, it’s not.

But the Greek government doesn’t stop by only pushing boats back at sea, they also remove people who already have arrived on Greek islands, robbing them of all belongings, money, papers and phones, before taking them back to sea, and force them into life rafts, leaving them helplessly drifting. Since March 2020 almost 450 life rafts have been found drifting in the Aegean Sea carrying close to 8000 people, nobody seems to wonder how this happened.

These actions by the Greek Government is of course illegal, not only according to international laws, but also a violation of international human rights and the law of the sea. The EU commission seems happy with the Greek effort on being the “shield of Europe”, and continues pouring money and Frontex resources into Greece, to support their efforts on keeping Europe “safe from these invaders” of men, women and children seeking safety in Europe.

Artwork By Yorgos Konstantinou

The case from Kos will be updated as soon as more information is made available for Aegean Boar Report.

Update 25.11.2021

At 13.10 Yesterday the Turkish coast guard picked up two life rafts drifting south west of Karaada, Bodrum, the same life raft that was deployed by the Hellenic coast guard a few hours earlier.

The Bermuda Triangle Of The Aegean

That people disappear from time to time, for many reasons, is well known all over the world, but that large groups of people magically disappears, on a daily basis in Europe, is uncommon, at least it was.

Over the last 19 months large groups of refugees has kept disappearing after arriving on the Greek Aegean island, only to resurface hours or days later, drifting in life rafts in the Aegean Sea. Greek authorities seemingly baffled by these magical events, seems to have know answers on these heavenly interventions.

In the last 19 months almost 8000 people have magically disappeared after arriving on the Greek Aegean islands, only to have been found in a total of 450 life rafts drifting in the Aegean Sea. A magic show that would have put even David Copperfield in the shadows, if it in fact was magic, it’s not, it’s an systematic violation of international laws and human rights performed by the Greek authorities.

A boat carrying 26 people landed in Dotia area, between Emporio and Vroulidia, Chios south east before first light on October 21.

The appropriate authorities was notified, given all details on the new arrivals, also that they wish to apply for asylum by email from Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Minitor (GHM).

From information in the local online news Astraparis, port police on chios told the journalist that they had no information on this incident, besides a email from the NGO Greek Helsinki Monitor, and referred to the local police.

According to the General Regional Police Directorate of the North Aegean, nobody had been found, but they were still searching. This was most likely not true, and the intention was not to officially find them at all, so that they magically disappeared during the night, as so many before them.

From looking at the official arrival information published by the Greek authorities no arrivals was registered on Chios this day, nor the following days.

From a video taken in the hills north east of Broulidia Beach, published in local news, all doubts on if they in fact had been on Chios, is removed, any local will confirm that the location is on Chios.

The Greek deputy Ombudsman, George P. Nikolopoulos, Department of human rights, sent a letter to Border Protection Police, Chios Police, Samos Police on 15/11 – copied to GHM, asking questions regarding the incident and the whereabouts of these people.

The arrival was thoroughly documented, not only was pictures, videos and geolocation data received, but also detailed personal information on all who arrived in this group. All this information was provided to the appropriate authorities.

Their arrival was published by the Greek Helsinki Monitor, Astraparis, EFSYN and Aegean Boat Report, no information was provided by the authorities, and no people was officially found on Chios.

On the following morning, October 22, at 04.20 am, 25 people was found and picked up from two life rafts drifting outside Kusadssi, by the Turkish coast guard (TCG)

From pictures published by TCG, there is absolutely no doubt, it’s the same people who the previous day arrived on Chios.

Several people from the group is positively identified in both pictures and videos taken on Chios, and pictures and videos published by TCG.

The question is not if it’s them, because it is, the questions is how did they end up in these life rafts and who was responsible for putting them there.

Greek authorities continues to deny any involvement in these pushbacks, lying to both the EU Commision and international journalists. It has been proven, without a doubt, that these pushbacks are performed by the Hellenic coast guard and special forces belonging to the Greek armed forces, on direct orders from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. All do he pretends to have no knowledge on these atrocities, it’s unlikely that a head of state is unaware of massive operations undertaken by it’s coast guard and armed forces over the last 19 months.

The EU commission seems to be unwilling to put necessary pressure on Greece to try to put and end to this illegal and systematic violations of international law and human rights, performed by a member state. Our fundamental European values are undermined by the very people we have put to protect them.

The Handiwork Of The Hellenic Coast Guard

In the early hours of today, November 8, a boat carrying 31 people, 14 men, 14 women and 3 children, tried to cross from Ayvacik, Turkey to Lesvos north.

Aegean Boat Report received an emergency call at 05.13, from the Greek Turkish sea border, people onboard was under attack by a two engine RIB, five men in dark uniforms, carrying guns, faces covered with balaclavas.

On the phone people were screaming, and we could clearly hear a power engine in the background, not the small engine like these rubber boats are fitted with, but something significantly more powerful. The phone went dead, and connecting was lost.

Three hours later, at 08.00, the group came online again, they asked for help, they said that the soldiers had removed the engine on the boat, and that they were drifting. We received a location from whatsapp, that seemed to be inside Greek waters, but difficult to pinpoint the border exactly. From pictures received, taken early this day, we could clearly see that the engine was missing.

Aegean Boat Report contacted the Port Police on Lesvos, the call took over 9 minutes, because they were far more interested in who I was and how I knew, than in the people helplessly drifting inside their territory waters. The woman on the phone at the port police office in Mytilíni suddenly seemed to have lost most of her English skills, and mumbled something about checking the incident before she just hung up the phone.

As a routine, in all case where there can be doubts on where exactly a boat is located at the border, the Turkish coast guard was also called. This call took under one minute, all information was given, and the operator on the other end could inform me that the position given was inside Greek territory waters.

Another four hour passed, an at 11.50 the group was online again, this time from a different phone number. Aegean Boat Report received pictures and videos from a life raft, we could clearly see two rafts filled with people, the same people who was drifting in a rubber dinghy without an engine four hours prior.

A new location was sent, and strangely enough this group had managed to not only move 44km, 24 nautical miles, in a boat without an engine, in four hours, but also magically managed to change transportation equipment from a rubber boat to two life rafts. How this magic act had been performed, well we don’t need to be rocket scientists to understand.

The two life rafts, carrying 31 people was drifting south west of Ayvalik, and again Aegean Boat Report called the Turkish coast guard. The operator on the other end told me that they know about the two rafts, and that a coast guard vessel was already on the way to the location, they had received a fax from the Greek Coast Guard, informing them about the two rafts drifting inside Turkish territory waters, and the operator said that this was standard procedure after a pushback by the Greek Coast Guard. After a pushback, the Hellenic Coast Guard is kind enough to inform their counterparts on the whereabouts of their pushback victims by fax, that’s just brilliant.

What happened would have been quite amusing, if it hadn’t been for the severity of the situation. The Hellenic Coast Guard had made one crucial mistake when they removed the engine of the rubber boat, and left people drift north of Lesvos. The boat didn’t drift towards Turkey, instead it drifted south east towards Lesvos, not exactly what they had in mind, and something they needed to correct.

31 people was picked up by the Hellenic Coast Guard, transported out of the area and forced into two life rafts. Onboard the Hellenic Coast Guard vessel they stripped them of what little they had, bags, money, papers and phones, but one phone they didn’t find, the one they used to contact Aegean Boat Report. Somewhere west of Ayvalik they had been left drifting, and the Hellenic Coast Guard had corrected their mistake.

We can easily conclude that they didn’t manage to move from a rubber dinghy to life rafts by themselves, and travel 44 km without an engine in four hours. Another example of the handiwork performed by the Hellenic Coast Guard, on behalf of the Greek government.

Families In Captivity On Farmakonisi

A group of 36 people, that supposedly have been held captive for several days on the island of Farmakonisi by Greek officials, contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance.

The group of 36, 24 men, 6 women and 6 children, all from Palestine, has informed Aegean Boat Report that they wishes to apply for asylum in Greece.

So far they claim to have received nor food nor water, and been kept like animals in a small area surrounded by barb wire, only shelter is a small shed next to the port.

From pictures, videos and location data sent to Aegean Boat Report, there are no doubt that they are on Farmakonisi.

Also from pictures we can clearly see a Lambro Halmatic 60, ΛΣ 514, belonging to the Hellenic Coast Guard anchored at the port, the vessel most likely belongs to the port police on Leros.

The fate of the 36 on Farmakonisi is unknown, contact with the group was lost earlier today. No reports on people being transported to Leros, and we fear that they will be deported in life rafts in the Aegean Sea if nobody intervenes.

Update 12:00

Port Police on Leros say they know nothing of this incident, something that seems very strange. 36 people have been held captive on the inhabited island for days.

This morning the ΛΣ 514 left and a Lambro 57 coastal patrol boat took its place in the port, ID number ΛΣ 612, belonging to the port police on, yes you guessed correct, Leros.

They are obviously lying, and the reason for these lies, well we can online imagine, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

The situation on the Greek Aegean islands is totally out of control, more and more people are being pushed back after arriving on the Greek islands. The evidence is very clear, it had been documented for 19 months without any action taken by the EU commission, it’s not only an embarrassment for the Greek people, but for the whole of Europe.

It’s time for the EU Commission to intervene, this madness has been going on far to long already

Pushback Ongoing Involving 400+ People

Yesterday morning Aegean Boat Report was contacted by a large group of people on a cargo ship drifting south of Ierapetra, Crete south. People onboard estimated that there are between 300-400 people onboard.

The boat was heading towards Italy, but due to bad weather and engine problems they headed towards Crete, where the engine stoped working.

They sent pictures, videos, sound messages and location data, and there is no doubt that the boat was drifting between Ierapetra and the small island of Chrisi.

People onboard call 112 and alerted the Hellenic coast guard, and shortly after a vessel from HCG was on the scene. HCG vessel ΛΣ 070 can be seen on pictures and videos sent from the people onboard.

Strangely enough local newspapers have written about the emergency south of Crete, but have been informed by port police officials on Crete that they have searched for the boat but not found anything in the area, this is highly suspicious, especially since we can definitely prove that the ΛΣ 070, belonging to the Hellenic coast guard, is on location. So basically the Greek coast guard is lying to the press, and we can see no other reason than that they are trying to cover up another pushback.

Yesterday afternoon we received videos and pictures of the boat being towed by the Hellenic coast guard, and we assumed that they would take the boat to port on Crete, unfortunately this seems not to be the case.

Late last night we received location south east of Crete, and this morning we can see the boat heading north east towards Turkey. The plan might be to take them to Rhodes, but we believe that this boat will be set adrift in Turkish waters near Datça, Turkey, hopefully we are mistaken.

In pictures we can see Special forces personnel have boarded the cargo ship and taken control over the bridge, nobody is allowed to the area, special forces is heavily armed.

The boat has a steady course towards Turkey, and if nothing is done this will be the biggest single pushback performed by the Greek coast guard ever registered. We call on the international community to intervene, this madness can no longer continue.

We also call on EU politicians and member states to to contact the greek government to try to put an end to this, the time to act is now!

Update 11.30

The tow have now stoped outside the island of Kasos, people onbord are anxious, they dont know what will happen to them.

Update 13.15

The boat is now being towed due north east, people onboard have gotten no reassurance that they will be taken to a Greek island, and are very worried.

“Everyone here is from Afghanistan, we are all human, world should help us, for God sake please help us!”

Update 14.30

Only contact is a new location, no other information received.

Update 15.40

Update 18.30

Update 19.00

It seems like this case will not end up in a pushback, and the Hellenic coast guard now say that they will find a safe port for the cargo ship. “Right now, the important thing is to get the ship to a safe anchorage,” an official with knowledge of the operation told The Associated Press.

It`s perhaps a bit odd the port police told CNN yesterday afternoon that they hadn`t found the boat, when we have pictures and video of HCG being on location at 08.30. Also a bit strang to be looking for a safe port, towing the vessel from Crete to an for now unknown location. Perhaps more likely that this case got a bit more atention than they had in mind in the first place, and that they due to publick pressure had to change thir initial plan.

Aegean Boat Report happy that this large group will not be pushed back, and will be given the opportunity to apply for asylum.

Update 22.00

People have been onboard for four days, and still, after being towed since yesterday noon, they have received no food, no water and no medical attention. One man unconscious, two others also very sick.

The Hellenic Coast Guard have now turned around, it looks like they are heading towards Karpathos harbor. There seems to be no plan on where to take the people on this boat, when their initial plan to push them back fell through.

There has been given no information from the Greek authorities to the people onboard, they are confused and do not know what will happen to them.

People onboard need food, water and medical attention immediately!

Update 00.00

Athens is taking coordinated diplomatic action in order for Turkey to honour its commitments and take back the more than 400 peole carried by the Turkish ship.

Greek authorities update:”The ship with about 400 migrants, which bears the Turkish flag, is currently sailing in international waters. A request has been submitted by the Greek authorities to Turkey to accept its return by the Ministry of Shipping. In collaboration with Mr. Plakiotakis, the Minister of Immigration and Asylum has already contacted the Turkish authorities and the European Commission to resolve the incident.”

This is by itself very strange to claim that the boat is in international waters, 12 nautical miles from Greek shore, since most of the time the boat hav been inside Greek territory waters. Also the only reason that the boat might have been in international waters, is because it was towed there by the Hellenic coast guard vessel ΛΣ 070.

The boat was initiated a few kilometers from Crete, when HCG started the tow yesterday, October 28, at noon. Since have the boat been towed by HCG and is currently located south east of Karpathos, destination is still unknown, and from the map showing the posisjon of the boat sent by refugees onboard since yesterday, it doesn’t look like HCG knows themselves.

Update 01.00

The boat seems to be going back and forth outside the east side of Karpathos, no information have been given to the passengers from HCG, and no food, water or medical attention has been provided to people onboard.

Update 14.00

Over 400 people are still trapped on a small cargo ship, witch have been towed by a vessel from the Hellenic Coast Guard(ΛΣ 070), since the morning of October 28. No food, water or medical attention has been provided by the Greek government, several people onboard are sick, some seem on video being unconscious.

The boat was yesterday outside Karpathos, where the Hellenic Coast Guard towed it back and forth east of the island for 24 hours, seemingly without any plan on where to take these people. What reason they have for not providing any support to over 400 people trapped on this cargo ship is not known, it’s an inhuman act in itself, and clearly shows that they deliberately makes the situation onboard as cruel as humanly possible, as they have done on the Greek Aegean islands for years.

Efforts have been made by the Greek government to avoid to take responsibility in this case, by first trying to argue that they should be taken back to Turky because of the EU-Turkey agreement, then later trying to pull the “vessel in international waters” card, in this case trying to claim that the boat was 12nm off the Greek coast, not taking in account that they actually, most of the time, was inside this zone, and actually being towed by the Hellenic Coast Guard for now 55 hours.

People onboard have been told that they will be taken to a Greek island and will arrive there this afternoon around 17.00. From the positions received from the boat this morning, they are heading in direction of Kos, but unknown if this is the final destination. The boat is now north west of Tilos, still being towed by HCH.

There is a lot of confusion amongst the over 400 people onboard, some are happy because they believe they will be taken to Greece, others In deep despair, because they don’t trust the Greek government and believe they somehow will be taken back to Turkey.

We call on the integration community to make sure this inhuman treatment of the people onboard comes to an end, and that they are taken to a safe port in Greece to be able to apply for asylum.

A Lambro 57 patrol boat from the Hellenic Coast Guard just pulled up next to the cargo ship, and people are saying the special forces personnel onboard the cargo ship is leaving. Confused grows even bigger, and they believe the Greek coast guard will leav them there drifting. Situation is difficult due to a total lack of information from the Greek government to the people involved.

Update 14.20

It seems like all military personnel have left the cargo vessel, people onboard is desperate, some reports on suicide attempts, people jumping into the sea, situations is getting out of hand.

Update 14.30

Situation was a bit tense but seems to have calmed down. People onboard have been told they will be taken to Kos, and a new crew of special forces personnel has entered the boat, to take them to port in Kos.

Update 18:00

After four days at sea they have arrived outside Kos, and seems to have anchored north east of Kardamaina.

HCG vessel ΛΣ 070 has left and a new vessel from HCG has taken over, ΛΣ 080.

People onboard is still very confused about what is going on, and what will happen to them.

Hopefully they will soon be taken to land on Kos, and be provided with food, water and medical attention.

Update 20:00

After 60 hours trapped onboard the Cargo vessel controlled by the Hellenic Coast Guard, under guard by heavily armed special forces, no support to the over 400 passengers has been given, no food, no water and no medical attention to those remaining onboard.

People are still confused, and have little trust in information from Greek authorities that they will be disembarked on Kos.

Update 01:30

The boat carrying over 400 people are finally heading towards Kos harbor, and are expected to be in port within one hour. If passengers will be disembarked tonight or tomorrow morning is so far unknown, either way it will take some time to get that many people off the cargo vessel, checked, registered and quarantined.

For now it seems like this case finally will come to an end, and all the people involved will finally be taken to a safe port, for now.

31.10.2021

The Downfall Of European Values

A boat carrying 27 people landed north west of Palios, Lesvos north east before first light on October 12. Immediately after arriving they split into several smaller groups, and fled to the woods, scared to be found by Greek police and illegally returned to Turkey.

Several of the groups contacted Aegean Boat Report after first light, and asked for assistance, they wanted to be taken to a camp and get the opportunity to apply for asylum in Greece.

The weather this day was terrible, heavy rain and wind, it wasn’t a good time to be hiding in the woods, without shelter. UNHCR head office was informed on the situation, and as far as we know there were communication between UNHCR and the harbor master in Mytilíni, and also between UNHCR and the police. The official information from the police at the time was that nobody had been found.

Contact with the groups was lost and regained several times during the day, they sent pictures, videos, locations and sound messages, to document their presence on Lesvos. The groups was scattered in different locations on the north east of the island, hiding.

We struggle to find anyone on Lesvos that could come to their aid, on Lesvos, or any other island for that matter, there isn’t many that are willing to provide assistance, organization, NGOs, volunteers, journalists and lawyers, who dare to go to a location to help people who have just arrived, they face the risk of being arrested, charged with facilitating illegal entry to Greece, obstruction of police investigations and whatever other charges they might come up with, and this just because they are trying to help vulnerable people seeking safety in Europe.

No information on their whereabouts was given to the police by Aegean Boat Report, we will not contribute to the violations of international laws and human rights performed by the Greek authorities, systematically removing people from European soil, leaving them helplessly drifting in life rafts in the Aegean Sea. At the time we had no reports on any emergencies within the groups, that would indicate that they would need immediate medical attention.

In the afternoon Katinka Simonse, aka Tinkebell, contacted Aegean Boat Report, after reading our post on the new arrivals that needed assistance on the island. She and two others made plans to go to a location where at least six people was hiding on the north of Lesvos, to try to assist.

Before they went, she spoke to officers from Bulgarian Frontex to get advice on how to approach the situation, and if Frontex could help to bring these people to camp.

Around 21.00 the group of three was on the way towards a location south east of the village of Klio, where six people was hiding in the woods. One hour later they arrived and found six boys, minors, soaking wet, and tried their best to keep them warm.

At this point port police on Lesvos was informed, they received location and said they would come to the location, this didn’t happen. Several hours later no police had arrived, and k.Simonse and her group decided to drive back to Mytilini to try to get help.

On their way back, they stopped at a second location where a group of 8 people was supposedly hiding, from the same landing as the previous group. Unfortunately the group in this location had moved further up the mountain, and it was not possible to find them in the dark.

The Dutch crew headed back to Mytilíni, gathered blankets food and water, spoke to the police, who again promised to go to the location of the new arrivals in the north, before they hurried back to the minors in hiding.

Police eventually arrived around six in the morning, 8 hours after they had gotten information on the whereabouts of the minors, they didn’t seem too interested in getting these people to a camp, at least not in a hurry. The Dutch crew was told to follow the police back to Mytilíni, for a short statement at the police station, at this point things took a turn for the worse for the people who tried to help.

At the police station they were interrogated one by one, for hours, the woman was told to undress and had to go through an humiliating illegal search that included stripping naked, where the police officer also checked their cavities. This was of course totally illegal, since they hadn’t been arrested or charged with anything, meant for humiliation and intimidation, and a good example of how Greek police acts when they want to send a signal to others, to scare off anyone thinking of doing the same. Tinkebell press conference published on Instagram

After 7 hours the three arrested were let out of the police station, after lawyers had demanded their release, there was no charge made against them, but hopefully the officers involved will have to answer for their crimes in a court of law in the near future. The incident has not gone without attention in the Dutch press.

The following day, October 13, more people were located and taken to camp. A group of 8 people that had been given shelter by locals in a school in the village of Klio, amongst them a pregnant woman that was taken to hospital for a routine check after complaints of pain in her stomach. A total of 13 people were transported to the quarantine camp in Mavrovouni, Lesvos south, and one woman to hospital. Yes we are aware that only 13 people was registered as arrived in the Greek government statistics, why the woman in hospital is not registered we actually don’t know.

From the group of 27, only 14 people actually arrived in a camp, the rest, 13 people seemed to have magically disappeared, again. No new arrivals were registered as arrived on Lesvos this day, nor the following days.

The group of 8 people that was supposed to meet up with the Dutch crew suddenly went offline, last sign of life was at 03.06 when we received a location at a road south east of Mantamados. We didn’t hear anything from them before they again contacted Aegean Boat Report on October 17, from Izmir, Turkey.

The person we had contact with four days prior was 17 year old Hamza, he told us that police had found them around 02.30. They had been very scared, but police calmed them down by saying that there was nothing to be worried about, and that they would take them to camp. Unfortunately the police didn’t tell the truth, and they wouldn’t be taken to any camp, at least not a Greek one.

A white van arrived, they had to go in the back of the van, there were no windows or seats, scared, wet and freezing after a long day out in the storm, they huddled together in the back of the van to try to stay warm. They explain that it seemed like they were driving for 30-40 minutes, but it was difficult to tell time.

Illustration Picture

When the van stopped 8-10 men in balaclavas, carrying guns and batons was waiting outside. “There was a lot of shouting and screaming, they wanted us to give our bags, phones, papers and money to them, those who didn’t do what they were told was beaten with batons and kicked. Even dose who did do everything they asked for got beaten just for looking up, it was crazy, they called us names, insulting things, I don’t know why they treated us like this” said Hamza. They even had to take off their shoes and jackets, it was could, windy and raining.

Five unaccompanied minors and one adult were stripped of the few belongings they had left in life, brutally beaten and insulted by representatives of the Greek government, members of the heroic and proud Greek armed forces.

Hamza said they were taken to a port, with a concrete pier and som building, when showing him pictures of the Schengen port in Petra, Lesvos north, he instantly recognized it. This is the same port that has been used in many similar cases on Lesvos, illegally deporting people from Greece.

They were taken onboard a Greek coast guard vessel at first light, under guard by masked men with guns, wearing balaclavas, constantly reminded of “look down and shut up”, those not doing what they told, was again beaten. They were placed outside on deck, on the left side of the vessel, the only things they had on was a t-shirt and jeans, their jackets, shoes and all other belongings had been taken from them. Five other people were also taken onboard, four of them Hamza immediately recognized, they had arrived on the same boat on Lesvos the previous day. 13 people, mostly unaccompanied minors, forced back to see by the Hellenic coast guard.

The vessel taking them out was identified as a Vosper Europatrol 250 MK1, most likely the ΛΣ 050 belonging to the Hellenic coast guard and stationed in Petra.

How long they stayed on the boat was difficult to say, watches and phones were stolen from them, outside, without proper clothes, freezing, it felt like hours, and it most likely was.

The vessel stopped and there was a lot of activity on the middle deck behind them. A gray rib was hoisted with a crane off the vessel, while several masked men in dark uniforms inflated a small raft. The minors was told to get in the life raft, those who tried to resist were treated roughly. The gray rib towed the life raft away from the HCG vessel, after five minutes the rope was cut and the rib returned to the HCG vessel.

Prevous Pushback Performed By HCG

13 people, mostly unaccompanied minors age 14 to 17, were left helplessly drifting in a life raft in the Aegean Sea, without life vests and any possibility to call for help, because the Greek Coast Guard had stolen their phones.

Turkish coast guard reported to have picked up a life raft carrying 13 people on October 13, at 14.25 close to the Turkish coast, most of them unaccompanied minors.

From pictures taken on Lesvos we have been able to identify several people from pictures and videos published by the Turkish coast guard. There is no doubt that it’s the same people who arrived north of Palios, Lesvos north the previous day.

Hamza is sitting on the right side of the raft, his jacket and hat was taken by the Greek police, but his blue ribbon on his right wrist is visible on both pictures from the life raft and from pictures on Lesvos. The blue ribbon symbolizes the Somalian flag, it’s him remembering that his home is in Somalia, no matter where he is in the world.

Hamza was interviewed on TV by a journalist from the Dutch RTL Nieuws, her you can hear him tell what happened in his own words.(starts at 3.20)

There is absolutely no doubt who is responsible for these illegal pushbacks, and it’s also no doubt that the EU Commission and it’s representatives won’t lift a finger to try to stop these violations, it’s an embarrassment, not only for the EU commission, but for the whole of Europe.

This has been going on for over 18 months, over 20.000 people have been illegally pushed back in the Aegean Sea, 400 life rafts found drifting carrying 7000 people, all by the hands of the Greek government, blessed by the EU Commission. Violations of international laws and human rights financed by EU taxpayers money.

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson is using fancy words in a speech at the plenary debate on pushbacks at the EU external border, “Pushbacks should never be normalised, pushbacks should never be legalized”, unfortunately, both are lies.

Pushbacks are indeed normalized, the results we can see in Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, actually the whole Balkan route and the EU`s external border.

To say that pushbacks never should be legalized on one side, and finance it on the other side seems strangely contradictory. Frontex presence at the borders of the EU is massive, never before in the history of Frontex, have as many troops, state of the art technology and surveillance systems, been deployed at the EU external border, but despite all this, they haven’t reported one single pushback, no violations of human rights, nothing, doesn’t anyone find that a bit odd?

Perhaps it’s difficult to report on something that they are a part of, but for EU politicians to try to say this is not their policy, not their responsibility, lying and trying to disguise the truth, it’s an embarrassment.

The Disgrace Of Europe

A group of 27 people arrived on the small island of Diaporti, west of Livadaki beach, Samos north east, in the early hours of October 18. After first light they contacted Aegean Boat Report, asking for help so that they wouldn’t be pushed back to Turkey by the Greek authorities.