21/07: Greek coastguards pushed boat carrying 26 people back to Turkey

22.07.2017 / 20:46 / Aegean Sea

Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 21st of July 2017

Case name: 2017_07_21-AEG294
Situation: Push-back by Greek coastguards to Turkey
Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded
Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

Summary of the Cases: On Friday the 21st of July 2017, at 5.03am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted by a contact person to a group of 26 travellers, amongst them 2 children and a pregnant woman. The contact person forwarded us the position of the travellers, showing that they had reached Greek territorial waters. At 5.30am we called the Greek coastguards and passed on the information. We tried to reach the travellers many times, but it was not possible to establish direct contact. At 5.54am the contact person informed us that the Greek coastguards were trying to return the boat to Turkey, and forwarded us a video that showed the boat of the coastguards circling around the travellers, creating waves which resulted in water entering the boat. We called the Greek coastguards again to protest these actions and to stress the urgency for rescue, but the officer just confirmed that the travellers were going back to Turkey. At 7.05am the contact person informed us that the travellers were with the Turkish police.

The next day we managed to establish contact to the travellers via WhatsApp, and they confirmed the pushback by the Greek coastguards. They reported that the coastguards had been very offensive by creating big waves that caused their boat to rock left and right. On the coastguard vessel, men were wearing black and carrying weapons. Water started coming into the boat and the passengers started panicking. Although they pleaded with the Greek coastguards, declaring that they had a sick child with a chronic condition with them who needed medical treatment, the Greek coastguards refused and insisted on sending them back to Turkey. Fearing for their lives and those of the children they had on board, including a paralyzed child and an 8-months-old baby, they went back to the Turkish coast where the Turkish police showed up to pick them up. Apart from the boat of the Greek coastguards, the travellers informed us that another boat with a Greek, French, Croatian and German flag painted on it was present during the pushback without intervening. After the travellers had been pushed back, they were arrested by the Turkish police.
Credibility: UP DOWN 0
Layers »
  • Border police patrols
    While the exact location of patrols is of course constantly changing, this line indicates the approximate boundary routinely patrolled by border guards’ naval assets. In the open sea, it usually correspond to the outer extent of the contiguous zone, the area in which “State may exercise the control necessary to prevent infringement of its customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws” (UNCLOS, art. 33). Data source: interviews with border police officials.
  • Coastal radars
    Approximate radar beam range covered by coastal radars operating in the frame of national marine traffic monitoring systems. The actual beam depends from several different parameters (including the type of object to be detected). Data source: Finmeccanica.
  • Exclusive Economic Zone
    Maritime area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea in which the coastal state exercises sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, the seabed and its subsoil and the superjacent waters. Its breadth is 200 nautical miles from the straight baselines from which the territorial sea is measured (UNCLOS, Arts. 55, 56 and 57). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans
  • Frontex operations
    Frontex has, in the past few years, carried out several sea operations at the maritime borders of the EU. The blue shapes indicate the approximate extend of these operations. Data source: Migreurop Altas.
  • Mobile phone coverage
    Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network coverage. Data source: Collins Mobile Coverage.
  • Oil and gas platforms
    Oil and gas platforms in the Mediterranean. Data source:
  • Search and Rescue Zone
    An area of defined dimensions within which a given state is has the responsibility to co-ordinate Search and Rescue operations, i.e. the search for, and provision of aid to, persons, ships or other craft which are, or are feared to be, in distress or imminent danger. Data source: IMO availability of search and rescue (SAR) services - SAR.8/Circ.3, 17 June 2011.
  • Territorial Waters
    A belt of sea (usually extending up to 12 nautical miles) upon which the sovereignty of a coastal State extends (UNCLOS, Art. 2). Data source: Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero, Atlas of the European Seas and Oceans

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