Greek police continue illegally handing over Turkish asylum seekers back to Turkey, a policy that results in “lambs to the slaughter,” Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) said in a statement on June 6.
HLHR is the Greek branch of the worldwide monitoring group, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
“On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen,” HLHR said.
“HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved M.C., his wife and their four children, as well as Y.E., F.C., and one more man, whose name is still not known,” HLHR’s statement further said.
HLHR said it has already contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and would bring the matter to the attention of Greek courts and tribunals.
“A certain measure of political and diplomatic equilibrium with our neighboring country is understandable. But this equilibrium should not be used to justify a policy that results in ‘lambs to the slaughter’. The rule of law must never debase in such a degree the value of human life and dignity,” the statement underlined.
The June 6 statement came days after another statement by the same institution. Murat Capan, the managing editor of the leading investigative magazine, Nokta, which was shuttered by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, was forced by a group of masked Greek men to sail back to Turkish side on May 24. Capan was earlier sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for two critical news stories.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government along with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the latter’s denials of involvement.
With 120,000 people already detained over alleged or real links to the movement, thousands of others tried to escape Turkey illegally as the government cancelled their passports. While many managed to get out of the country, hundreds of others have been caught near border on Turkish side.
Refoulement from the Greek side is only recent occurrence.