Personal report of a push-back from Orestiada, Greece to Uyuklutatar, Turkey

This report was originally submitted in English

Push-Back:From GREECE to TURKEY
When did the push-back happen:21/07/2019
Who is reporting the push-back?I was pushed back
Where did the push-back start:Orestiada, Greece
Were you brought somewhere else during the push-back?The soldiers took us from the police station to the banks of Evros river.
Where did the push-back end?Uyuklutatar, Turkey
Places you have been to during the push-back:OUTSIDE, CLOSED SPACE, POLICE STATION, MILITARY TRUCK
How many people were pushed-back?:30-50
Who was pushed-back:MINOR, FAMILY, ELDERLY PERSON, SINGLE MAN, SINGLE WOMAN
How were you treated during the push-back?BEATEN, SHOUTED AT, SLAPPED, CURSED, THREATENED VERBALLY, THREATENED WITH A WEAPON (e.g. spray, baton, handcuffs), IMPRISONED, PERSONAL SEARCH, MY PERSONAL BELONGINGS WERE CHECKED (e.g. mobile), MY PERSONAL BELONGINGS WERE STOLEN (e.g. mobile)
Who pushed you back?PERSON IN UNIFORM, MILITARY STAFF AND A CIVILIAN DRIVING THE BOAT TO TURKEY, POLICE OFFICER, SOLDIER, CIVILIAN
How many people were involved in pushing you back?5-10
Did you ask for asylum?:Yes
Were you documented and how? My personal information was taken.MY PERSONAL DATA WAS TAKEN, THE DOCUMENT WAS NOT IN MY LANGUAGE
How many times did you experience a push-back?:First time
I self-identify as:Turkish

A Push-back Case in Orestiada, Greece

Survivor Report

 

Date: 21 July, 2019

Deportation Location: from Orestiada, Greece – to Üyüklütatar,Edirne, Türkiye

Deported People: Turks and other nationals (probably Afghanis, Syrians and others)

Number of Deported People: about 40

 

Incident

After crossing from Evros river to Orestiada, around 04:00 in the morning of July 21, 2019. Greece, we were caught in a field close to Orestiada by a group of black camouflaged men with black ski masks. They arrived at the place with a black Toyota Hilux or Nissan pickup. The vehicle had no number plates, any sign or any organizational symbol on it. The men in black camouflage searched us by scattering our belongings on the ground in the field.

After the search, within an hour, an old man (almost between 50 and 60 years old) with casual clothes without any uniform or mask arrived at the place. This old man was wearing eyeglasses. He took us to a police station in Orestiada County in a white vehicle that I thought was a Hyundai brand (H100 Panelvan) without windows. We arrived at the station in a maximum of 30 minutes. I can’t remember any sign or the name of the station because it was in Greek. However, the place we were taken to was a police station.

 

A Police Station Somewhere in Orestiada Zone

There was a large parking area in front of the police station. If I am not wrong, the ground was covered by white dust and white pebbles. The police station was surrounded by a garden wall.The police officers, dressed in dark blue, lined us up at the station. One of them made our shoelaces removed and put us in a very dirty cell without any explanation. There was a toilet in the cell. It was very disgusting and dirty. The cell had a small window with a view to a narrow drive. The small window was close to the ceiling. I could see the houses on the other side of the narrow drive through that small window, when I was on the upper bed of the bunk. On the other side of the police station there were only a few houses with gardens. I remember a police officer parked his car on that narrow drive.

The cell was maximum for four people as there were two bunks inside but they put two more Turkish people in the same cell they brought in later. We asked the officers in English at the police station what would happen to us. One said the chief would decide when he arrived that night. The officers refused our requests for a lawyer and a phone call.

One officer took us out one by one during the day and filled out a form and put us back in the cell. I showed him my Turkish IDs. The officer didn’t ask me whether I would apply for an asylum. But I requested international protection and told them I escaped from Turkey for political reasons. If I were to send back, I could be jailed one more time.

They confiscated all the phones we had. And then they didn’t give them back. No other questions were answered during the day.

 

I can only give a description of four police officers that I could remember.

1.An old police officer almost between 50-60 years of age met us in the entrance of the police station and asked us to remove the shoelaces. He has white hair and he is not totally bald.

2.A bald and old police officer between almost 40-50 years of age wrote our names and other information on a piece of form.

3.A female police officer was there during the day and she was almost between 30-40 years of age.

4.A male officer who answered our question about what would happen to us was almost between 30-40 years old.

 

Deportation

Around 21:00 in the evening, an officer came and said “you are going”. We thought we were going to the UN camp. But, by shouting, they let us out through the back door of the police station, which we entered through the front door. We couldn’t resist as the treatment was very harsh against us.

The camouflaged soldiers were waiting for us outside. They were wearing official uniforms not black costumes. They put us on a military truck shouting and hitting us with punches and kicks in the back. The military truck was an old model. The back of the truck was full of people. I couldn’t understand people’s language. Trying to stand on one foot in the trunk of the truck, I leaned against the people next to me. I tried to get along with my friends shouting at each other. The truck drove us down a broken road to the banks of the river Evros. I can still remember the scent of the river area.

When the back door of the truck opened, I yelled at my friends. So we could run in the same direction. Three of us started running in the same direction. Seeing this, the camouflaged soldiers followed us and caught us in a short time by holding their flashlights in the direction we were running. We had to stop because in English they told us to pull a gun and stop or they would shoot. When they caught us, they pushed and grabbed us by the ears and brought us to where the group that got out of the truck was. They said in English that if we made any more noise, they would hurt us. A soldier pushed me to the ground. And I never made a sound again.

Someone held my hand in the dark. When I looked up in the moonlight, I discovered it was an old man. But I had to push his hand. Because the soldiers were on top of us. Everyone was in a panic. Even the cries of children and women were humming. Because the soldiers were hitting whoever made a noise. They took us out to the Turkish side in groups with a boat driven by a civilian-clothed person. The person using the boat was an old man.

When I was taken to the other side, Turkish river bank, I immediately looked around and found my other three friends. We left the group in the dark immediately.

After a long and tiring walk, we were able to reach Üyüklütatar (Coordinates: 41.546709, 26.609551) village. That night, there was a wedding ceremony in the village. In the village, we couldn’t find a car to go to the city and we decided to walk to the city. It took us almost four hours to get Edirne city.

Maps

This map shows the places where crossing, detention and push back took place. 

Orestiada, Greece is the place we crossed from Turkey. Detention in a police station and push back took place within the borders of Orestiada.

Üyükütatar is a village of Edirne city in Turkey. We, as a group of people, were pushed back from the banks of Evros on the side of Orestiada to the side of Üyüklütatar, Edirne.

Approximate place of Deportation

I was able to find the approximate place of deportation by concentrating on the location where we were left by the boat. On Turkish side, I can remember the flora (bushes, trees) and the path we walked through. This place was somewhere on the southwest of Üyüklütatar village. So, the deportation point can be just the opposite side of the point where we were left on Turkish side. The approximate coordinates are 41.525542, 26.590571. Yet, the exact place may change.

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