Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 07th of October 2015Case name
: Vessel in distress attacked, stabbed and pushed back by Greek coastguard near the Greek island of Lesvos, two other groups rescued near Chios and on AstypalaiaStatus of WTM Investigation
: Ongoing Place of Incident
: Aegean SeaSummary of the Cases:
On Wednesday the 7th of September 2015 the Alarm Phone was alerted to three boats in distress in the Aegean Sea, near the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and on Astypalaia. One boat was attacked by the Greek coastguard near Lesvos and subsequently pushed back into Turkish territorial waters. The Alarm Phone will forward the details of the case to the Greek ministry to ask for further investigations and to human rights NGOs to follow-up the case.
In the early afternoon the Alarm Phone was informed via mail about a boat in distress with 40 travellers on board, among them 5 children (case 1). We learned that the Greek coastguard had attacked them, taking away the engine and stabbing the boat. They were in immediate danger of capsizing. At 2.30pm a contact person called us directly and provided us with a phone number and current coordinates of the boat, showing them in Turkish territorial waters north of Lesvos. As we were not able to establish direct contact to the travellers, we talked again to the contact person at 2.45pm. He had already alerted the Turkish coastguard, but so far no rescue boat had arrived. We also called the Turkish coastguard and asked for immediate action. The coastguard promised to send a rescue vessel to this position, but also stated that they had many ongoing cases. Afterwards we spoke to the contact person again, who provided us with another number, which was able to receive WhatsApp messages. In the following 30 minutes we tried to speak to the travellers on board and sent messages to them, informing them that the Turkish coastguard would rescue them. At 3.35pm the contact person told us that the Turkish coastguard had rescued the boat. Since the boat was attacked, we asked the contact person for more details in order to document this violent incident. He had relatives on board of the boat, who had clearly told him that the Greek coastguard had taken away the engine, had stabbed the boat and had not rescued them.
On the following day one of the travellers contacted us directly. He told us that their boat had already been in Greek territorial waters, when a grey speedboat of the Greek coastguard approached them. Five men on the speedboat, masked and dressed in black, shouted that they should go back to Turkey. The speedboat rammed the travellers’ boat repeatedly, forcing it to turn around. One masked man beat several of the travellers with a baton, injuring their arms, hands, legs and backs and causing bruises. Afterwards, the masked men took away the boat’s engine and tied a rope between both boats. The speedboat pulled the traveller’s boat into the direction of Turkey for about 10 minutes. In Turkish territorial waters, one of the masked men stabbed the traveller’s boat, thus causing immediate danger of capsizing. He told them to place their hands on the hole in order to avoid sinking too rapidly. Afterwards the speedboat disappeared and the travellers had to wait about four hours until the Turkish coastguard rescued them. Water was entering the boat and they had to scoop it out of the boat with their bare hands. The traveller also told us, that the group took photos and videos of the speedboat and promised to forward them to us. As the travellers had been still desperately trying to leave Turkey and due to bad internet connection they have not done so yet. The Alarm Phone will forward the details of the case to the Greek ministry to ask for further investigations and to human rights NGOs to follow-up the case and keep contact to the survivors of this attack.
On the same day, at 7am, the Alarm Phone was alerted via Facebook to a boat between Çeşme/Turkey and the Greek island of Chios (case 2). We asked the contact person to provide us with the phone number of the travellers. At 7.30am we received the number and talked to the travellers on board, a group of 75 persons, who were not in immediate distress. 30 minutes later we talked to them again. They had been rescued by the Greek coastguard and had arrived on Chios safely.
In the evening, at 9pm, a contact person, whose family members had stranded on an unknown island in the Aegean Sea, called the Alarm Phone and asked for help (case 3). He sent us a phone number and coordinates, which showed the travellers, a group of about 60 persons, on the eastern part of the Greek island of Astypalaia. We tried to call the travellers several times but were not able to reach them. At 9.20pm the contact person informed us that the local police had picked up the group and that they were fine.
Last update: 19:59 Oct 18, 2015