Gruber van Josoor finds it worrying. “Pushbacks are always illegal. If we take international law seriously, all the treaties that we as Europe have signed to give people the right to apply for asylum, this should never happen. And with these methods people are also immediately endangered at sea. “
Whether the masked men, which Sumaya and other migrants are talking about, work on behalf of the Greek Coast Guard is not certain. They have been popping up on the border between Greece and Turkey for years. Men with balaclavas who do not shy away from violence. Investigative reporters from Bellingcat and Lighthouse Reports examined photos and videos where they can be seen. They found evidence that their boats are of a brand with which the Greek Coast Guard also has a contract.
‘The Dirty Work’
The Greek government firmly denies having anything to do with the pushbacks. Prime Minister Mitsotakis recently said in an interview with CNN that the claims are simply not true and it is Turkish propaganda to put Greece in a bad light.
Human rights organizations, including Greek, have been reporting pushbacks for years. There is no longer any doubt that they are happening on a large scale, says Eva Cossé of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch in Athens. She is concerned that the European Union is silent about it. “The EU and the member states have been silent about pushbacks for years. There is an explanation for this: it solves a problem for Europe. Greece is doing the dirty work for the European Union here and everyone is looking away.”
The Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs recently said at a press conference that Greece prevented 3,000 people from reaching the country in August. He did not comment on the way Greece has done that. Human rights organizations see it as additional evidence that Greece is actively pushing boats at sea back to Turkish waters.
Sumaya and her group, like many others, are rescued by the Turkish coast guard. They are collected and registered in Turkey. In practice, most migrants subsequently disappear without residence status in poor neighborhoods in large cities. Sumaya’s hope, a safe new life in Germany, ends here for the time being. “It was all just a dream,” she says softly. “I’ll never get there.”
The Greek authorities have not responded to questions from the NOS.