– Turkey rescues 81 migrants subjected to inhumane treatment by Greece

Turkey rescues 81 migrants subjected to inhumane treatment by Greece

Insisting on its violation of international law, Greece continues to push irregular migrants back to Turkish territorial waters by subjecting them to inhumane treatment. Most recently, an irregular migrant group of 43 Syrians, 36 Afghan nationals and two Iranian nationals, pushed back to Turkey by Greece, was detected, and Turkish forces extended their hand to the victims who were about to freeze in the Maritsa (Meriç) River in the northwestern border province Edirne.

It was reported that after the asylum-seekers were caught in Greece, their money was taken, they were not given food and water, they were beaten and sent to Turkey by force and with bare feet. Migrants were then taken into the country to meet their humanitarian needs.

According to the data provided by the coast guard, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, 15,174 irregular migrants pushed back into Turkish territorial waters by Greek elements were disembarked.

At least 629 cases of migrants being illegally pushed back around the Greek Aegean islands were reported in 2021, the Aegean Boat Report, which monitors arrivals and rights abuses in the Aegean, also said earlier this month.

Setting out to start a new life, the irregular migrants’ journey of hope often ends in the blue waters of the Aegean Sea or turns into a nightmare due to the inhumane practices of Greek coast guard units. Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives.

Despite the United Nations’ reports and the evidence presented by Turkey, the world’s indifference causes the Athens administration to continue its unlawful behavior. Greece, which violates the European Union’s processes on migration and refugees and the Geneva Convention, sinks the boats of migrants trying to cross the sea and leaves them on the middle islands.

According to experts, Greece was encouraged to continue its illegal practices by European countries – especially European Union members – and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which have acted as if they could not see the violence and ill-treatment targeting asylum-seekers.

Pushbacks are considered 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.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose center-right New Democracy party came to power in 2019, continued to defend his government’s controversial migration policy, alleging that it was “tough but fair,” and claimed Greece has been rescuing hundreds of people at sea since 2015 when it was on the front line of Europe’s migration crisis.

As Turkey has often pointed out, Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency, also supports Athens’ policies that trample human dignity. Frontex’s budget was cut due to human rights violations such as illegal detention and violence against asylum-seekers along with Greece. The European Parliament (EP) had frozen 90 million euros ($103 million) of the 2022 budget of Frontex, the institution responsible for the external borders of the European Union.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu recently said that Frontex is not an organization with a clean record, adding that Europe will be held accountable for the disgraceful actions of the agency.

“Pushbacks, especially by Greece, are both a serious problem and a crime against humanity, staring the whole world in the eye. Greek elements push back 83% of irregular migrants who reach their borders,” he said.

Saying that Frontex was an accessory in this crime by ignoring international law, he added: “Frontex is the disgrace of our century and one that has to wear black bands on their sleeves. They will feel responsible for this for the rest of their lives. It is not a clean institution. European civilization and Europe will be called to account for this institution. The world’s dirtiest institution is Frontex.”

Calling on Europe to dissolve the agency, Soylu said: “Europe should abandon this institution. They are making their judgments, at the end of the investigation, the Frontex institution should be convicted and should be wiped from the world. The most important representative of the truly dark mentality of Europe in the 21st century is Frontex.”

A joint investigation by several international news outlets reported in October 2020 that Frontex had been complicit in maritime pushback operations to drive away migrants attempting to enter the EU via Greek waters. A month later, Brussels-based news outlet EUobserver revealed that Frontex exchanged letters with Greek authorities about Athens’ orders to push migrants back to Turkish waters.

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