erdogan: Erdogan opponents allege Greek border pushbacks – Occasions of India

ATHENS: For years Greece has been accused of illegally pushing asylum-seekers again to Turkey, a observe it strenuously denies. However based on witnesses and rights teams, the abstract deportations are additionally hitting weak opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kurdish author Meral Simsek, 42, is one in all a number of individuals who informed AFP they have been despatched again to Turkey to face imprisonment and potential torture after already making a deadly crossing of the border on the River Evros. Simsek mentioned her expertise was harrowing. She claimed Greek police forcibly strip-searched her and one other girl from Syria, and that she almost died on the journey again. “They took our telephones and all our paperwork. They informed us to undress and strip searched us. They even put arms on my vagina,” she mentioned. The 2 ladies have been then put into an unmarked van and pushed again to the river. “The automobile smelled of blood and urine, indicating that different individuals had been abused in there,” the author mentioned. Simsek was then pressured onto a dinghy piloted by two migrant males who “meant to drown” her, she claimed. “I jumped into the water and swam to the opposite financial institution,” she mentioned. Final month Human Rights Watch mentioned Greece was utilizing males of obvious Center Jap or South Asian origin as “proxies” to facilitate unlawful deportations at its land border with Turkey. When she received again to the Turkish aspect, Simsek was locked up within the close by metropolis of Edirne. She was lucky to keep away from a 22-year jail sentence for belonging to a terrorist organisation thanks to assist from Amnesty Worldwide and different rights teams. However she nonetheless faces a 15-month sentence for spreading propaganda towards the Turkish authorities. “This expertise on the Greek-Turkish border revived the trauma of my previous,” mentioned the author, who was jailed and tortured in Turkey within the Nineteen Nineties. “I needed to rebuild my life in Europe, be protected. As a substitute of that, I lived a nightmare,” she mentioned. Greece has historically been sympathetic to the plight of Kurds, a few of whom have been waging an insurgency towards the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of 1000’s of lives. However based on the Kurdistan Cultural Centre in Athens which assists fugitive Kurds, the coverage seems to have modified final summer time and plenty of at the moment are despatched again to Turkey earlier than being given an opportunity to use for asylum in Greece. A whole bunch of non-Kurdish Turkish residents have additionally sought safety in Greece following the failed coup towards Erdogan in 2016. Mehmet, a former police officer accused of being loyal to Fethullah Gulen — a preacher and former Erdogan supporter accused of plotting the coup — claimed Greece pushed him again 3 times final yr. He prevented a fourth expulsion due to a Greek lawyer, who helped him lodge an asylum request. Meryem, a 32-year-old with twin Franco-Turkish nationality, mentioned she was turned again in October even after displaying Greek police her French id card and a replica of her passport. She was jailed in Turkey after being sentenced for being a part of Gulen’s organisation, which is now unlawful. Her case is pending earlier than the European Court docket of Human Rights. Athens has at all times denied that its safety forces interact in unlawful pushbacks. In March, Greece’s nationwide transparency authority mentioned a four-month investigation discovered no proof of such practices. EU border company Frontex has additionally repeatedly been accused by rights teams of illegally returning migrants throughout EU borders. Its chief Fabrice Leggeri give up final month amid an investigation by the European anti-fraud workplace OLAF, reportedly into alleged mismanagement. Alkistis Agrafioti, a lawyer with the Greek Council for Refugees, mentioned the time has come for the EU to mount a “critical” inquiry into pushbacks. “Pushbacks not solely run opposite to worldwide legislation, however they’re additionally accompanied by prison acts — stealing, violence, abuse” and lives being put at risk, she added. AFP didn’t obtain a reply to a request for remark from the Turkish authorities.

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