8 Children Left Drifting in Life Raft Outside Lesvos

A boat carrying 19 people arrived south of Tsonia, Lesvos north east at 06.30 on August 12.

Immediately after arriving they fled to the hills in the souroundin area to hide from Greek authorities, afraid to he found and pushed back to Turkey. In the group there were 8 children, 5 women and 6 men.

The group contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, but before we managed to reach out to them, all phones when they offline, and all connection was lost.

Before we lost contact the group manager to provide pictures, videos and geolocations, proving without a doubt their presence on Lesvos.

No new arrivals was taken neither to the quarantine camp in the north, nore the south, this is also confirmed by the official registration of arrivals by Greek authorities.

We assume that authorities had found the group, because all phones was offline, and that the group had been forcibly removed from the island, this is the “normal” illegal practice of the Greek authorities.

In two of the videos they sent, we can see them hiding around some trees in the area, also a helicopter closing in, if this is related to a search of the area we have not been able to confirm, but shortly after all contact was lost.

If this helicopter was in fact searching for this group, it’s most likely a helicopter belonging to Frontex, stationed on the island. If that’s the case there should be a log of the helicopters location and time, that could confirm their involvement in pushback activity together with the Greek authorities.

All phones went offline between 09.41 and 09.48, Greek time, we do not believe they all ran out of power on their phones at the same time. It’s more likely that in these 7 minutes, the group was found and all phones taken away from them by force, usually at gunpoint from previous experience.

From locals we have information that there was a lot of activities in the area this morning, that most likely had to do with new arrivals. Later, at 13.00 two police cars was observed coming from Kleio/Tsonia, driving south towards Mantamados.

On August 12 at 14.06 a group of 19 people was found and rescued from a life raft drifting outside Dikili, Turkey, by the Turkish coast guard. They had 30 minutes earlier been informed by email from the Greek coast guard, that a group of people was drifting in this area, in need of rescue.

When we compared pictures and videos sent to us from the group of 19 after they arrived on Lesvos, with the footage from the Turkish coast guard when they rescued the people from the life raft, we can clearly see that it is definitely the same people, there is absolutely no doubt.

At 09.48 the group was found by Greek authorities on Lesvos north east, 3 hours and 48 minutes later they had “successfully” removed them from the island and left them drifting in a life raft outside Dikili, Turkey.

It’s clear for everyone that the group could not have moved from the north of Lesvos to the sea area outside Dikili, 50 km away, by themselves, in a life raft, without any form of engine, someone had to have done this, and who other than the Greek coast guard could possibly be responsible?

This operation was done in brought daylight, and clearly shows that Greek authorities are not in any way concerned that their illegal activities will have any consequences, and since there has been no condemnation from the European Commission, we must assume that these violations of international laws and human right is blessed by the Commission as border management.

The police cars observed leaving the area in the north of Lesvos at 13.00 driving south must have been empty. The commandos wearing balaclavas, driving in cars without license plates, must have left the area many hours earlier with the group.

We have followed this case, investigated and now published our findings. The case is quite straight forward, not especially complicated, it’s not rocket science. Anyone can without to much difficulty look at all the facts presented, and make a fairly accurate conclusion, but for some strange reason EU politicians seems not to be able to.

We must assume that these politicians are perhaps at least moderately intelligent people, they at least should be. From what they have been able to do regarding these violations performed by a member state, we actually can start to wonder, and if they are intelligent people, why are they not doing anything about it?

Since March 2020 the Greek authorities had pushed back 40.000 people in 1.500 cases the Aegean Sea alone. In this period over 800 life rafts carrying refugees have been found in the Aegean, and nobody from the Commision is even considering looking in to it, that just amazing.

Frontex involvement in human rights violations in Greece is no longer a question, it’s a matter of fact. They tried to keep the report from European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) a secret, away from the public, but a leak of the report to international press blew the case wide open, exposing that Frontex covered up pushbacks by Greek authorities, and even assisted.

How this will be handled by the European Commission is still not clear, the only responsible and correct thing to do is to pull Frontex out of Greece, and freeze all financial support to the country, until state of law is restored, but not a very likely scenario.

The Commission is at the moment deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid, an embarrassment for Europe, and by no means reflects the European way of life, our values, quiet the opposite.

Pusback Nr 1.486, And Counting

On Thursday, August 11, we published a case on 18 people arriving in Limani Kapis, Lesvos north.

“A boat carrying 18 people, 8 adults and 10 minors, landed north of Limani Kapis, Lesvos north east at 06.00 this morning, one of the new arrivals are pregnant”

Unfortunately only 8 of them made it to safety, 5 was taken to the quarantine camp in Megala Therma, a pregnant women taken to hospital in Mytilíni, Lesvos south, and two taken to the RIC in the south, one remains unaccounted for.

We have identified the 5 taken to the quarantine structure in the north, and the woman taken to hospital from the group of 18 that arrived.

After arriving on Lesvos on the morning of August 11, they split into two groups, a group consisting of 9 people, amongst them 7 minors, was after two hours located by Greek authorities and arrested.

The group was stripped of all belongings and beaten by the police, even the woman, according to information from one of victims. A small boat transported them out to a bigger vessel, after two hours they were left drifting in a life raft outside Dikili, Turkey.

Turkish coast guard found and rescued 9 people in a life raft drifting outside Dikili, Turkey at 15.15 on August 11.

From pictures provided by the group while on Lesvos, we have clearly identified all of them in the pictures and videos taken by Turkish coast guard when they were found drifting outside Dikili.

There isn’t much doubt in who is responsible, especially since 8 of their friends are now officially registered by Greek authorities on Lesvos. They are witnesses and can confirm that the 9 found in the life raft, is the same people they traveled with to lesvos in the early hours of August 11.

In most countries in Europe rule of law is highly valued, and such claims as serious as this would immediately be thoroughly investigated, but not in Greece. Any such investigation would most definitely come to the conclusion that Greek authorities rescued 8 people that arrived this day, and the 9 had somehow found a life raft and paddled the 50 km back to Turkey in under 3 hours, because they had changed their mind for some reason.

The Turkish coast guard had been notified by the Greek coast guard by email that there was a group of people in this area that needed to be rescued. Greek authorities denies any involvement in these illegal pushbacks, but how could they possibly have known that there was people in life rafts in this area, if they themselves hadn’t put them there.

This is the result of Greek authorities inhuman treatment of refugees arriving on Greek Aegean islands, they are hunted like animals, robed, beaten, raped and killed, humiliated in the worst way imaginable, it can only be seen as systematic torture.

Another “successful” illegal operation performed by the Greek coast guard, on direct orders from the Greek authorities, to protect Europe from these unwanted people. In these difficult times it’s easy to see that we do not value life equally, we differentiate between people who are more “similar” to us, the right skin color and religion, and we open our doors, the rest, those unlucky ones, we beat and torture, we mutilate, even kill to keep them out of our precious Europe.

Human rights are everyone’s: they are the rights of every person on Earth, regardless of their race, their nationality, their colour or their beliefs.

How people, who most likely have their own family, children, could do this to people, 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.

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 truly independent 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 amust end this shameful, illegal, dehumanising, embarrassing and unacceptable practice.

Three people drowned after being thrown into the sea in handcuffs by Greek Coast Guard

According to information published by the Turkish coast guard, a group of 12 people was captured on the island of Chios, after they had arrived on a boat from Turkey together with 27 others.

Before being forced back out to sea, they were taken to an unknown location, stripped of their belongings and beaten by 10 masked men. One of them was taken away in a car, “we could see him being taken away” one of the victims explained, “we think they had killed him”.

In a video testimony, one of the victims explains how 11 of them were taken back out and thrown into the sea by Greek coast guard, without life vests, some in handcuffs.

At 10.05 yesterday morning Turkish coast guard found 8 people on the island of Karaada, 16 kilometers from Chios, one body had washed up on shore, two people was reported missing. A search and rescue operation was initiated to locate the two missing, as a result two more bodies was found in the area.

Yesterday the local online news Astraparis published about a group of 10 people spotted in the area of Tholos, Chios north east.

A total of 21 people was located in the area and taken to the quarantine structure in Lefkonia, according to official registration published by Greek authorities.

Question is, are these two cases linked?
The pushback victims claims they had traveled to Chios together with 27 other people. 21 people was found and registered, 12 was taken by police, that would leave 6 people not accounted for.

What happened to the man taken away by police from the group of 12, and who were the two women who handed them over to the police? Many questions will remain unanswered, due to lack of verifiable documentation.

The answers might be found amongst the 21 taken to the quarantine structure in Lefkonia, Chios. If what the survivors claims is correct, we are looking at not only attempted murder, but also the murder of at least three people.

That people have been thrown directly into the sea with handcuffs by the hands of the Greek coast guard, is unfortunate not new. This we have heard many times before, both from the Turkish coast guard, but mostly from victims, people who have survived this cruel and inhuman treatment.

If this is what happened in this case, we honestly can’t say for sure. The information we have so far is pointing in that direction, but so far not conclusive.

Sunday afternoon another body was found outside Palios, Lesvos north east, it was in such stat that gender was not possible to determine. The body was transferred to the General hospital in Mytilíni.

People continues to die in the Aegean Sea while searching for safety in Europe.

The Life Rafts In The Aegean Sea

Over the last three years 38.000 people have been pushed back in the Aegean Sea in 1.500 cases by Greek authorities, despite the mounting evidence against them, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, continue to deny Greek involvement in these atrocities.

Evidence is recorded by UN bodies, NGOs and investigative journalists. However, Mitsotakis refuted the ever mounting evidence of systematic pushbacks, saying Greece fully respects fundamental rights and doubling down on often repeated claims that such allegations are orchestrated by Turkey.

UN bodies and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back refugees, saying it violates human rights and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.

Pushbacks are contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which dictate that people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a social or political group.

A concerning trend in Greece of criminalisation of civil society organizations, who continue to expose Greek authorities, and the use of smear campaigns to restrict migrant rights defenders from operating.

So far almost 800 life rafts has been picked up by Turkish coast guard in the Aegean Sea, carrying over 13.000 men, women and children, who have been illegally removed from Greek islands by authorities.

We have put together videos from 170 life raft cases, filmed by the Turkish coast guard, from the last year, and decided to publish them in a uncensored video. The video is over 90 minutes, and shows only some of the life raft cases in the last year, if we had published them all the video would be over 6 hours.

How this have been allowed to continue for all these years, still ongoing every single day, supported by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX, funded by the European Commission, is reprehensible, these are the “European values” we are trying to protect.

European politicians have for far to long been looking the other way, while these crimes against humanity have been performed in our name, at our borders. They are even to this day, still debating “if” this is actually taking place, and if so, who is responsible.

The “if” and “who” has already been documented and proven without a doubt, the evidence is overwhelming, now it’s time to put the people responsible on trial for crimes against humanity, and restore our good name and reputation, our values.

Pushbacks in Greece Continues While Under Scrutiny

In the early hours of July 8, a group of 29 people arrived north of Pamfila, Lesvos south east. After arriving they tried to hide from Greek police in the surrounding area. The group consisted of Afghan families, amongst them 15 children.

The following day, in the afternoon, they contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, and provided pictures, videos and geolocations, there was absolutely no doubt that the group was on Lesvos.

Before we managed to find someone on the ground to assist, contact was lost. We had contact with the group for only 35 minutes, last contact was 17.25.

The group had most likely been spotted by locals the following day, or their boat had been found on the beach. Port police had sent out a “hunting party” to the area to locate the new arrivals, men in unmarked vehicles wearing balaclavas and carrying guns was observed in the area. We believe contact was lost when they were found and arrested by Greek authorities, all phones confiscated and turned off as they routinely do when they intend to remove people from the island. The group had arrived less than 4 km from the camp on Lesvos.

Local assets went to the location, but to late, there was nobody there, the group had already been removed. They could clearly see that the area had been used, grass was flattened and garbage was left behind, all with Turkish label’s.

The camps, north and south, reported no new arrivals at the time, we feared that the group was in imminent danger of being pushed back, if not already removed. We published about the group on Facebook to make public awareness, perhaps someone on the ground had seen or heard something that could shed light on the situation.

We know now that 16 people from this group, most of them small children, was arrested and held captive at gunpoint on Lesvos, until the Greek coast guard removed them from the island by force, that anyone could treat these small children with such cruelty is beyond my comprehension.

People arriving on Lesvos asking for help

The rest of the group had managed to escape the area on foot, and was hiding from the authorities until nightfall. It was later learned that small groups had arrived by themselves at the refugee camp in Mavrovouni, this night and the following day, under four kilometers from their arrival location.

People moved under cover of darkness in small groups, through the hills and small roads to avoid being detected, slowly closing in on the camp.

16 people was found and rescued by the Turkish coast guard at 20.45 on July 8 outside Dikili, south east of Lesvos. 16 people, mostly small children, had been forced into a life raft and left helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea by the Greek coast guard.

When we compared pictures and videos received by Aegean Boat Report while the group was on Lesvos, with footage from when they were found by the Turkish coast guard, there is absolutely no doubt that it’s the same people, we could positively identify all 16.

In an interview conducted by Turkish officials, a man from the group explained how some of them had been arrested and stripped of all belongings. They had been transported in the back of a van, taken from the beach in a smaller boat out to a coast guard vessel that was waiting for them, and left drifting in a life raft in the Aegean Sea.

Interview victim of the pushback on Juky 8 2022

Greek authorities claims that they do not perform pushbacks, and that all the evidence piling up against them over the last two years is the result of Turkish propaganda. UN, reputed journalists, NGOs, European MEPs, international courts, even the high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, are being manipulated by “propaganda machines and smuggling networks”, paid off, according to the Greek authorities..

Greek uniformed officers beat these people. They rob them, strip them, in some cases sexually assault them. They ridicule them, injure them, and in some cases kill them. It is hard to imagine how any government could possibly behave worse to people seeking safety.

As long as human rights abuse by Greek authorities continues, all funding from the EU should and must stop, on all projects. Funding already received should be thoroughly investigated to determine if funds are used as intended. End all Frontex operations and remove all Frontex presence currently deployed in Greece, until violations of international laws and human rights are brought to an end.

The European Union border guard agency’s oversight mechanisms have failed to safeguard people against serious human rights violations at the EU’s external borders. The actions of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), shows a pattern of failure to credibly investigate or take steps to mitigate abuses against migrants at EU external borders, even in the face of clear evidence of rights violations.

Frontex has repeatedly failed to take effective action when allegations of human rights violations are brought to its attention. Frontex has seven oversight, reporting, and monitoring mechanisms with the stated purpose of ensuring that its officers do not engage in abuse, are held accountable if they do, and are not complicit in abuse by EU member states. They include a system to report serious incidents that has recorded only a few incidents but failed to prevent abuse, and failed to hold those responsible accountable.

Under Article 46 of the Frontex Regulation, the agency also has a duty to suspend or terminate operations in case of serious abuses, Greece is a textbook example of such abuse.

Since March 2020, Greek authorities have illegal pushed back 36.885 people in 1.396 cases, left 870 boats and 740 life rafts helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea, in some cases assisted by Frontex.

From Aegean Boat Report Statistics

Pushbacks violate the fundamental asylum-law principle of non-refoulement and are contrary to international and EU human rights law of which Greece, as an EU Member State is subject to as well as national law (article 20 and 41 of Law no. 3907 of 2011.16).

It is the absolute legal right of any person to travel to any state, with or without paperwork, to apply for asylum. It is absolutely illegal for any government to prevent them, or to force them out of the country once they have entered, without giving their application for asylum due consideration.

We will not legitimize the NTA as an independent body, by participating in their false investigation

On 27 June 2022, we at ABR were asked by Greece’s National Transparency Authority to submit evidence relating to 28 pushbacks carried out by uniformed officers of the Greek police and/or coastguard in the Eastern Aegean islands and sea, between 25 March 2020, and 20 May 2021.

It is a request we have, after careful consideration and no small hesitation, decided we have no choice but to turn down.

A total of 1,193 people were pushed back in the incidents the NTA wishes to investigate, (in the entire period 1 March 2022 to 31 May 2021, the Greek government pushed back 12,741 men, women and children in 427 incidents).  

The large number, combined with the serious nature of the Greek authorities’ consistent law-breaking (as well as violence towards, and its theft of the property of, the people it pushes back) does inspire us to want a full and proper investigation to be carried out.

And as soon as we can be confident such an investigation will take place, we will happily share our documentation – all of which can, in any case, already be found at https://aegeanboatreport.com/ – with the body tasked with carrying it out.

But to our regret, that investigation – one carried out seriously, by people capable of doing so – simply will not and cannot be conducted by the NTA.

We have very good reason to fear, also, that our professional reputation will be damaged by any association with this specific investigation, and by contact with the NTA, and so we must decline to be involved with it.

Our reasons are as follows:

The National Transparency Authority is extremely poorly-placed to undertake investigations into pushbacks being carried out from Greece, under the orders of the Greek government (our position is that this is precisely what is happening: even if that is not your position, it is absolutely undeniable that this is what the NTA is being asked to investigate).

It was set up in 2019, by the Greek government, and its members include close personal friends of government ministers – including the country’s Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis.

At least as important, the NTA was not set up to investigate issues as grand and as serious as the systematic breaking of international law as a policy of the Greek government.

It was created to investigate wrongdoing on the scale of – for example – the Novartis Hellas bribery scandal, in which government ministers belonging to Nea Dimokratia and PASOK took cash from the healthcare company: to determine whether members of the Greek parliament and/or any other political groups in Greece had broken rules.

It simply does not have the capacity, nor the specialist staff, to undertake an investigation on this scale, into whether – and we openly maintain that it certainly has and is – the Greek government, since March 2020, in direct violation of international and European law, ordered and is ordering its uniformed officers to push men, women and children out of Greece.

That is, with the best will in the world, and even if the NTA wants to undertake such an investigation, it simply cannot do so.

Its findings, under such circumstances, will only damage men, women and children seeking safe places to live, learn and work, who the Greek government targets and attacks, and will continue to do so as long as it is ‘legitimised’ by poorly-handled and comically-conducted ‘investigations’.

And this absolutely does have the potential to impact our professional reputation.

Our concerns are not based on nothing, because this has already happened.

On 29 March 2022, the Authority issued a press release regarding its investigation into a series of pushbacks documented by Lighthouse Reports, which had compiled video and photographic footage, and testimonies from people pushed back.

It concluded that ‘there was no evidence’ that pushbacks had taken place – a claim which handed Greece and Europe’s far-Right, including members of the Nea Dimokratia party, to claim there was ‘no evidence’ of pushbacks from Greece.

The conclusion not only ignored the evidence of pushbacks happening which Lighthouse Reports provided to the Authority, and that compiled by us, other organisations, and national and international media across the Western world, but also the fact that the Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis himself has described pushbacks and stated that the Greek government does carry them out.

The Authority revealed that in order to come to this remarkable conclusion, it had asked the Greek Police to ‘examine’ Lighthouse Reports’ videos, and on the basis of the force’s advice, concluded that they – and all the other evidence – was unreliable.

As the Greek Police is in fact one of the major bodies the Authority should have been investigating, this is rather like showing a person a video of them breaking into a house and stealing jewellery and a TV, and following their advice on whether the video constitutes ‘evidence’.

To be as polite as we possibly can be, this does not in any way give us confidence in the Authority’s capability to investigate something as large and important as this.

And it went further.

On Thursday 12 May 2022, more than a month after putting out its press release, a period in which the far-Right consistently – and of course wrongly – smeared Lighthouse as an organisation, claiming it had ‘doctored’ videos, which it had not, the Authority finally published its full report on the ‘investigation’.  

It has since been taken down from the Authority’s website (it was here), but it can be accessed here.

It revealed that not only had the Authority accepted without question advice on whether evidence was reliable from one of the major suspects in the matter it was supposed to be investigating, it had failed to speak to a single organisation documenting pushbacks (except to ask Lighthouse for ‘more details’), and had not spoken to a single person who had been pushed back.

It did speak to some people who had arrived in Greece and been registered as having done so, but by definition they have not experienced being pushed-back (or even if they have, they are unwilling to risk their status in Greece by saying so).

To return to our ‘burglary’ metaphor, the Authority appears to have conducted its ‘investigation’ not only by dismissing the evidence on the advice of the person under investigation, but also by refusing to talk to the victims of the burglary and instead only contacting people who have never in their lives been burgled.

To make matters worse, in the more than six weeks between the Authority putting out its press release and publishing its (now deleted) report, Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of the EU’s border agency Frontex, and a man given a medal by Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis for ‘helping Greece ‘with its ‘refugee response’ was forced to resign in shame and ignominy, when it was proven from Frontex own documents that the agency had both carried out pushbacks, and worked to cover-up pushbacks carried out by the Greek authorities, in the Aegean.

Not only that, in his protracted resignation statements, Leggeri revealed that he had been told it was Frontex’s job to carry out pushbacks.

Of course, this came too late for the Authority to have avoided putting out its press release and then waiting several weeks while politicians and others attacked Lighthouse’s good work, but it was certainly not too late – in fact it had almost two weeks – for it to have decided not to publish its report and instead to have issued a retraction of and apology for, its incorrect conclusion.   

We cannot, in all conscience, take part in an investigation we believe will be no more than a masquerade.

The National Transparency Authority, even if it is inclined to, is not equipped to do a proper job of investigating pushbacks from Greece by the Greek government through the authorities it employs.

Its manifest failings, including its failure to really carry out an investigation, its use as its main authority on the reliability of the huge amount of evidence provided to it one of the main suspects in the crime itwas supposed to be investigating, as well as the way in which it – intentionally or otherwise – created the perfect space (and inexplicably enormous amount of time) for the far-Right to attack and smear Lighthouse Reports (and stand back and say nothing while it happened), as well as its failure to even factor-in the Frontex revelations despite the fact that they were directly material to the Greek government’s own illegal activities, lead us to only one conclusion: the only one possible.

It would be both pointless and harmful to us as an organisation, and to the men, women and children seeking safe places to live, learn and work in Europe, for us to take part in this new ‘investigation’, or any other sharede by the NTA. And we shall not.

We cannot justify implying validation of this ‘investigation’, by pretending it is a serious effort to ‘discover the truth’. It is not, and we shall not.

As soon as an investigation is given to a competent body, such as the Greek Ombudsman or a committee of experts (and expert investigators), we shall, of course, be involved if asked.

Until then, you can continue to view all the evidence of the tens of thousands of pushbacks carried out by the Greek government at https://aegeanboatreport.com/

32 Refugees Tortured On Kos Held Captive for 12 hours By Greek Authorities

On June 25 at 06.00 am, a boat carrying 32 people, all from Afghanistan, landed east of Ag. Fokas, Kos south east.

Immediately after arriving the group fled to the hills in the surrounding area, in fear of being found by police and illegal returned to Turkey.

Shortly after arriving the group contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, the group provided location and pictures to document their presence on Kos. From the pictures we can see that the there are many small children in the group, youngest member was only 3 weeks old.

Contact with the group in hiding on Kos was lost just after 10.00 am, and we assumed that they had been found by police. No new arrivals was taken to camp on Kos this day nor the following days, this can also be seen in the official report on arrivals published by the Hellenic Ministry of Migration and Asylum.

After reconnecting with the group now back in Turkey, they could explain how they were arrested by masked men, held captive in 12 hours on Kos under extreme circumstances, and left drifting in the Aegean Sea by Greek coast guard.

We lost contact with the group when 4 masked med found them in the hills above Ag. Fokas, they immediately ordered all phones to be handed over, the men forced them to give up their passwords, to axes the phones, “they pointed guns at us, we were so scared”.

They told us that they would take us to camp, but then when we arrived at a ruined building they said you will stay her, they will take corona test and take you to camp tomorrow”.

The group was forced into the back of a white van, there were no seats and they had to sit on the floor on top of each other. “There was no windows, but I could see outside through the front window, we drove through the city, I could see traffic lights, but I didn’t pay much attention because they said they would take us to camp”.

We arrived at a ruined building, it looked like an old school, inside we could see electrical equipment, laboratory equipment, protection glasses, things that can be used in a school, inside on the right side there was a large hall, they took us all there”.

They said that the place they were kept couldn’t have been close to the sea, nor people or roads, all they could hear outside was a dog barking in the distance.

When everyone was gathered inside the nightmare started. At gunpoint everyone was ordered to hand over all belongings, bags, money and papers. The men was separated from the women, handcuffed and forced to lie down on the floor in a separate room, those who refused was severely beaten. “The masked med was shouting, beating people, children was crying hysterically from fear, it was a nightmare”.

A boy age 7 who was traveling with his mother was separated from her and forced into the room with the men in handcuffs, an 11 month old baby was taken from her mother and used as a bargaining chip, threatening her wit her own child to get her to comply.

They searched everyone, they forced them to take of all their clothes, in front of everyone, even the women. “They touched us on our private parts, they looked and checked places they shouldn’t have seen, it was humiliating”.

We asked to go to the bathroom, they told us there was no bathroom, so they took us outside behind the building, we could do anything because the men were watching

The group was imprisoned in this building from 11 in the afternoon until 11 at night, in this time no food and water was provided, not even for the children or pregnant women.

While in captivity one of the women found a pen and wrote down the license plate number of the white van on a pice thorn from a cardboard box. She hid the pice of papers in her closet, not to loose it. We received a picture of this taken after they had arrived back in Turkey, the number was KXZ.6491.

Plate Number Written while still on Kos

In Greece license plate numbers are not publicly available, so we can’t look up who this white van belongs to, but we can see in what district the van was registered. The two first letters is KX, so the car belongs to Kos/Kalymnos area. For those who live and work on Kos it would be fairly easy to locate this van, a big white van stands out, not easily hidden, especially if this van has been frequenting used to remove people around the island.

Two other people, a man and a woman arrived, both in civilian clothes, jeans and t-shirts, they also searched through their belongings. The woman was thin, medium height, had a white t-shirt and long hair in a ponytail. The man was older they say, around 45-50, had white hair, tall and athletic, they both used facial protective masks, and not balaclavas as the rest of the men holding them captive. These two left but arrived again around 10 at night.

We understood that something was going on, it was dark outside and the masked men holding us captive told us to get up

The group was forced back into the white van they had arrived with, everyone was scared, confused, didn’t understand what was happening. They told us they drove for approximately 40 minutes in the van, but time was difficult to keep track on under these circumstances.

All 32 people, men, women and children, was forced onto a big gray vessel, they said it looked like a “was ship”, so we must assume that this was a vessel from the Greek coast guard. The vessel took them back out to sea, and forced them into two life rafts outside Datcha, Turkey. “They took us out and left us in the middle of the sea in the dark, we begged for our lives, they didn’t listen, those who didn’t go voluntarily was thrown down into the raft”.

When I listen to their testimonies, I can’t understand what kind of people do these horrible act’s, how can anyone do this and call themselves humans afterwards. In this case there was a lot of small children involved, take a close look at their faces, how could anyone do these things to these children and not be seen as anything else than a monster.

In most countries in Europe anyone doing this to children would face a very long time behind bars, including a full psychological evaluation, but not in Greece. There they are applauded and promoted for a service well done, a hero of Greece, and literally nobody is doing anything to stop it, if this isn’t rock bottom I don’t know what is.

At 02.35 am, the Turkish coast guard found and rescued 32 people from two life rafts drifting outside Datcha, Turkey, south east of Kos.

The Turkish coast guard had been notified by the Greek coast guard by email that there was a group of people in this area that needed to be rescued. Greek authorities denies any involvement in these illegal pushbacks, but how could they possibly have known that there was people in life rafts in this area in the middle of the night, if they themselves hadn’t put them there.

Artwork By Yorgos Konstantinou

Comparing pictures taken on Kos with pictures taken when they were rescued by the Turkish coast guard leaves no doubt, it’s the same group that arrived on Kos the previous morning.

This is the result of Greek authorities inhuman treatment of refugees arriving on Greek Aegean islands, they are hunted like animals, robed, beaten, raped and killed, humiliated in the worst way imaginable, it can only be seen as systematic torture.

Only one question remains, what kind of people can treat other human beings this cruel and inhuman? We must remember that this isn’t done in 1940 by the nazis, but in 2022 by the Greek authorities. How long can these atrocities be ignored by the rest of Europe, what will it take to force the European Commission to act against a member state, crimes against humanity is obviously not enough!

There seems to be no end to the cruelty inflicted on these poor souls, as if they mean nothing to anyone, non humans that can be disposed of without any consequences.

I’m ashamed, lost for words.

Victime of the Pushback on June 25 trying to explain, still in shock

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Elie Wiesel

Let’s Be Very Clear Mitsotakis, You Are Most Definitely Lying

On Monday July 4, Aegean Boat Report published an Urgent Appeal on the behalf of 47 People In Imminent Danger Of Being Pushed Back From Lesvos. We called upon organizations, lawyers and journalists currently on Lesvos for assistance, the group was is in danger of being pushed back if found by Greek authorities.

The group arrived before first light on Monday July 4, on Korakas, Lesvos north, and contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, they said that the police were hunting them, shouting to them to come out, firing in the air several times to try to scare them.

A majority of the group, 38 people, was hunted down and taken by police around 06.30, only 9 was still hiding, 5 men, 1 women and 3 children.

Locals in the area had observed several cars driving around without license plates this morning, they said they were searching for arrivals. They had also asked several locals in a nearby village, if they knew anything who was helping refugees.

38 people was found and removed by masked men, all Afghan families fleeing from Taliban in Afghanistan. The same cars spotted earlier that morning, was later observed driving south towards Mytelini in high speed. Unmarked dark cars and a dark van without license plates, sane cares observed in previous cases where refugees have been removed from Lesvos.

Normally when new arrivals are transported south they should be taken to the quarantine facility for registration, but the 38 people had not been taken into the quarantine camp in the south, so where did the police take them? I guess we all know the answers to that question.

We also posted a huge “thank you”, to all organizations on Lesvos, who could have intervened but didn’t lift a finger to try to prevent this from happening, you can’t say you didn’t know, because you did!

We of course knows very well that there are challenges when opposing Greek authorities, but there are ways to get things done if they really wants to, and that’s perhaps the main problem her, they actually don’t want to. It seems that head office in Athen for both UNHCR and MSF, is more interested in playing ball with Greek authorities than actually do a proper job protecting vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution.

The remaining 9, five men, one woman and her three children, was hiding behind rocks and trees in the hills on the west side of Korakas, Lesvos north. To stay outside in the heat, without shelter, food or water was hard, especially for the children.

Both Local UNHCR and MSF was informed, and UNHCR was given permission to share their location with authorities. But did any of these highly regarded organizations step in and assist in any way, no they didn’t.

From UNHCR we received information that they could come tomorrow morning, since it now was after office hours, and MSF couldn’t go out because it was getting dark, and they do not operate after sundown. I’m actually quite shocked, these two organizations basically told people who desperately needed their help, that they had to stay outside hiding throughout the night because it was not convenient for them to help. If I worked for UNHCR or MSF on Lesvos, I would be deeply embarrassed, let’s hope they can get their priorities straight at some point in the future.

Kudos to those few who stood up against authorities on the side of the vulnerable, shame on those who looked the other way doing absolutely nothing, you are a disgrace for your profession.

The nine eventually got help from two individuals, not related to any organizations on Lesvos, but since no organization would help, the group decided to try to walk, with three small children, from Korakas to the quarantine camp in Megala Therma, close to Eftaloue. A walk that would probably take them 5-6 hours in the dark.

They didn’t get very far, in the outskirts of the village of Klio they were stopped by police, and told to wait for someone to come and take them to camp. Eventually a police van arrived and the group of 9 was transported to the registration center on Lesvos south, we waited for final confirmation that the group actually had arrived at the camp before we could relax, in light of what happened to the rest of their group earlier in the morning.

We must remember that these nine people are witnesses to a crime committee by Greek authorities, they witnessed their friends being taken away by masked men, so we must assume that they are not very interested in them talking to journalists or anyone who wants to investigate this.

There are literary hundreds of witnesses to pushbacks performed by the Greek authorities in camps on the Aegean islands, their testimonies seems of no interest to anyone. Why investigate something that they already knows the outcome of, evidence over the last two years is overwhelming, but yet the European Parliament seems reluctant to initiate any proper investigations into these illegal activities performed by a member state.

Instead they let Greek officials come to Brussels and blatantly lye to the Commision, everyone knows they are lying, but the charade continues. On Tuesday Mitsotakis made a complete fool of himself in the European Parliament, a huge embarrassment, especially for the Greek people, but also for Europe. I would suggest that the European Parliament gave the stage to the victims of these atrocities, and not the perpetrators.

I won’t use much time on Mitsotakis speech to Parliament, it can be watched in full her, a theatrical performance that fooled no one. But one think caught my immediate attention, a lie that is so obvious that even Kyriakos must have know it to be false, nevertheless he used it, mocking the Parliament, playing them for a fool.

He claimed that the Greek coast guard had rescued 6000 people in the Aegean Sea in the last months, that’s quite interesting since so far this year, the last six months, 2867 people have been officially registered as arrived in the Aegean by Greek authorities. Most of them wasn’t even rescued, they actually managed to land safely on the Greek islands by themselves, without any need of rescue.

So Mitsotakis, the 6000 people you claimed have been rescued by the heroic Greek coast guard in the last months, where are they, what did you do with them? Because let me make one thing very clear, they are not in Greece.

On Monday July 4, at 12.20, Turkish coast guard reported that they had found two life rafts drifting outside Foça, Turkey, carrying a total of 38 Afghans, mostly families, many of the small children.

The area where they were found is south east of Lesvos, over 40 miles from the place they arrived on Lesvos earlier this day. The van spotted by locals driving in high speed towards Mytelini, was in deed in a hurry, not to take 38 new arrivals to the camp for registration, but to get them removed from the island, pushed back as soon as possible. Somewhere on Lesvos south this group was forced back into the sea by Greek coast guard, on direct orders from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and left helplessly drifting in two life rafts in the Aegean Sea.

In a video from the rescue operation outside Foça, we can see two life rafts filled with people, many of them small children, the latest victims of Greek aggression against refugees on the border of Europe, and how do we act on these authorities, we fund the Greek coast guard to continue, it’s actually quite fascinating.

The nine who managed to escape this pushback is now in the quarantine camp on Lesvos, they have confirmed that the people seen being rescued from these life rafts is the same people they arrived with on Lesvos north in the early hours of Monday July 4.

In the hills on Korakas evidence on a large group of people arriving is scattered, bags and personal belongings that usually people would take with them, is left behind in the panic that occurred when commandos hunted them in the dark.

Greek authorities claims that they do not perform pushbacks, and that all the evidence piling up against them over the last two years is the result of Turkish propaganda. UN, reputed journalists, NGOs, European MEPs, international courts, even the high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, are being manipulated by “propaganda machines and smuggling networks”, paid off, according to the Greek authorities..

Artwork By Yorgos Konstantinou

Pushbacks violate the fundamental asylum-law principle of non-refoulement and are contrary to international and EU human rights law of which Greece, as an EU Member State is subject to as well as national law (article 20 and 41 of Law no. 3907 of 2011.16).

It is the absolute legal right of any person to travel to any state, with or without paperwork, to apply for asylum. It is absolutely illegal for any government to prevent them, or to force them out of the country once they have entered, without giving their application for asylum due consideration.

It is unacceptable. It is a stain not only on the good name of Greece and Europe, but on the world.

Afghan Refugees Tortured on Farmakonisi By Greek Guards

On Wednesday morning, June 22 at 05.30, a boat carrying 39 people, mostly families fleeing from Afghanistan, landed on the uninhabited Greek island of Farmakonisi.

The group contacted Aegean Boat Report for assistance, they asked for help to be rescued from the island and taken to a port of safety to apply for asylum.

Farmakonisi is a small uninhabited Greek island in the Dodecanese, there is a Greek military garrison on the island.

The group sent pictures, videos and geolocations to Aegean Boat Report to prove and document their presence on the island, there is no doubt that they in fact were on Farmakonisi.

There is no rescue vessel in the Aegean Sea, the only solution to get people rescued from these uninhabited islands is by assistance of the Greek coast guard. Unfortunately the same coast guard brutality and illegal returnees people by all means possible, on direct orders from the Greek authorities, this group was no exception.

At 09.00 on Wednesday we lost contact with the group, all phones we had contact with went offline, we assumed that they had been found by the military on the island and arrested.

In previous cases when people have arrived on Farmakonisi, they have been arrested and taken to a closed area surrounded by barbed wire next to a small port on the island, a shabby worn-down shed the only shelter. We assume the this group was taken to the same area after being arrested.

On Thursday morning, 04.25, Turkish coast guard reported finding two life rafts drifting outside Datcha, Turkey, 10 miles south east of Kos, a total of 39 people were rescued, many of them children and elderly people.

The victims from this illegal pushback explained how commandos in dark uniforms, face’s covered by balaclavas, tortured some of the men in the group while in Greek custody on Farmakonisi, “it seemed to amuse them” one of the victims explained, “we had done nothing wrong, we are fleeing from torture, trying to find safety, to be tortured in Europe when we arrive, where is the humanity?”.

After spending 20 hours in captivity on Farmakonisi, the Hellenic coast guard forced these families, men, women and children, into two life rafts and abandoned them, helplessly drifting in the Aegean Sea in the middle of the night. Tansporting them over 70 km from Farmakonisi to Datcha.

Such treatment demonstrates Europe’s continuing trend away from human rights protection towards border control along with a lack of accountability from the European Union’s border force, Frontex.

At a time when Greek authorities are facing heavy criticism for violations of international laws and human rights, pushbacks and violence in the Aegean Sea towards asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution is rapidly increasing, efforts to stop these authorities seems to have no effect.

Greek authorities claims that they do not perform pushbacks, and that all the evidence piling up against them over the last two years is the result of Turkish propaganda. UN, reputed journalists, NGOs, European MEPs, international courts, even the High Commissioner For Refugees, Filippo Grandi, are being manipulated by “propaganda machines and smuggling networks”, paid off, according to the Greek authorities..

Artwork by Yorgos Konstantinou

Pushbacks violate the fundamental asylum-law principle of non-refoulement and are contrary to international and EU human rights law of which Greece, as an EU Member State is subject to as well as national law (article 20 and 41 of Law no. 3907 of 2011.16).

It is the absolute legal right of any person to travel to any state, with or without paperwork, to apply for asylum. It is absolutely illegal for any government to prevent them, or to force them out of the country once they have entered, without giving their application for asylum due consideration.

What’s going on in Greece is unacceptable. It is a stain not only on the good name of Greece and Europe, but on the world.

Side Note:

In this case Aegean Boat Report definitely should have done more to try to prevent this pushback, but due to lack of funding and resources ,the organization was not able to provide any assistance.

At the time people on Farmakonisi contacted Aegean Boat Report, the organization was already engaged in a case on Barbalias Island, Lesvos, trying to prevent 29 people from being pushed back. By the time I could start focusing on the case on Farmakonisi, all contact was lost, and I had nothing to work with.

Due to lack of funding and resources, I unfortunately have to prioritize between cases I believe I can and can not change the outcome of. It might seem cruel to some, but that’s the reality. People arriving on uninhabited islands will always need the assistance of the Greek coast guard, there is no other means of rescue available in the Aegean Sea. And as we all know, the Greek coast guard are ordered to remove people, push them back by all means possible, on orders from the Greek authorities.

Could the organization have made any difference in this case, honestly not much. I could have provided the group with some public attention by publishing their case, the effect would most likely been limited, but definitely better than nothing, it would perhaps have given them at least a fighting chance, and that they definitely deserved.

I try to be as honest as I can, one person can only do so much without proper funding, for those I have failed, I’m truly sorry.

25 Refugees On Ikaria Fear For Their Safety

A group of 25 people, 14 men, 3 women and 8 children, contacted Aegean Boat Report tonight, Thursday June 2, from the island of Ikaria, west of Samos, and asked for assistance, they are afraid that the Greek authorities will deport them back to Turkey.

They arrived on Ikaria two days ago, found by police and taken to an old decommissioned building next to the police station.

People have to sleep on the floor, no blankets or mattresses have been provided.

So far local police have not taken away any of their belongings, and that’s perhaps a good sign, considering the normal procedures when people are being pushed back. On the other hand a local police officer told the group that they will be taken back to Turkey in the morning by the Greek coast guard, and the group was forced to sign a document presented to them only in Greek written, no explanation on it’s contents or why they had to sign.

Some of the people in the group is in need of medics attention, especially two people with some kind of skin disorder, that at first glance seems similar to Monkeypox, an infectious viral disease that have recently been registered in several countries in Europe, no medical attention has been provided.

Locals in the area are well aware of the group and have kindly provided food and water for everyone, the group is grateful for the support given.

What will happen to this group is so far unknown, local police did not want to provide any information when Aegean Boat Report contacted them Thursday night, not even admitting that the group was present on Ikaria, and in police custody.

Hopefully this group will be transported to a place of safety, given the opportunity to apply for asylum in Greece, but from previous cases when people have arrived on Ikaria, we are worried on what lies ahead.

On August 5 last year a group of 14 people was removed from the island and pushed back in a life raft that was found drifting outside Didim, Turkey.

And on October 17 last year a group of 22 people was also removed from Ikaria, found drifting in a life raft outside Seferihisar, Turkey.

We request that the appropriate authorities immediately transfer all members of this group to the nearest reception centre and allow them to register for asylum. Let’s hope they won’t share the same faith as previous arrivals on this island.