Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigation – 25/26 October 2014 Case name
: Push-back operation by Greek CoastguardsStatus of WTM Investigation
: Ongoing (Last update: 31st of October 2014)Time and Place of Incident
: Night of 25th-26th of October 2014 between Chios/Greece and Cesme/TurkeyBrief Summary of the Case
: Witness Mr D. reports of a push-back operation by the Greek coastguard when he and 32 other passengers, all of Syrian nationality and including a pregnant woman, were leaving Cesme in Turkey to reach the Greek island of Chios on a rubber vessel in the night of the 25th-26th of October 2014. The Greek coastguard intercepted the vessel and later boarded it, then took away the gas tank of the engine and punctured the vessel. The coastguard left the vessel behind in Turkish waters, without an engine and a hole in the vessel. The passengers were able to call the Turkish coastguard which rescued them and brought them back to Cesme.Summary of the Case based on Mr D.’s witness account
: The WTM shift team got in contact by phone on the 26th of October 2014 at 8:49 a.m.. Mr D., calling from a police station in Cesme (Turkey), explained that he and 32 other Syrian refugees were pushed-back by Greek coastguards in the night before when they sought to reach Greece in order to apply for asylum. The shift team reports that Mr D. was audibly shaken and still in shock when recalling the incident of the previous night. In his witness account, he recounted how they boarded a rubber vessel in the area around Cesme/Turkey in order to reach the island of Chios/Greece on the 25th of October. Approximately after one hour, the Greek coastguard intercepted the vessel. The coastguard forced them to shut off the engine. The refugees followed their commands. After they turned off the engine, the coastguard vessel moved away and left them behind. The refugees were stuck in the middle of the sea. After a lengthy period of time they tried to reignite the engine. After some time, they were successful and they reignited the engine. Immediately after, the coastguard re-emerged. The coastguard ordered them to leave their vessel and to embark on theirs. Following Mr D.'s account, the coastguards were shooting in the air. He stated that he was screaming to make the coastguard understand that they were all Syrian refugees on the vessel, and had fled from war and dictatorship: “I have here a 9 months pregnant lady, so please don't do that.” The Greek coastguard entered the now empty refugee vessel. They took away the gas tank of the engine. They drove them to a place where there were no boats, “in the middle of the sea”. They forced them back on the rubber vessel. Then the coastguard punctured the vessel and left them behind in Turkish waters with a hole in the vessel and without an engine. Mr D. stated that the coastguard wanted “to see us drown”. The passengers were able to alarm the Turkish coastguard and after a long time they were rescued by them and brought to Cesme. The survivors were to be brought to Izmir and released there.
Last update: 17:40 Nov 28, 2014