A video released Thursday by Alarm Phone shows masked men approaching a stranded migrant boat in the Aegean Sea as panic grips the canoe. According to the testimonies of the shipwrecked, these men, who they say belong to the Greek Navy, retrieved the motor of the canoe and threw it into the water. The telephone platform says that these methods have „considerably increased“ in recent weeks in this maritime area.
What happened in the Aegean Sea on Thursday 4 June?
Alarm Phone, the telephone platform for migrants at sea, released a chilling video. In the images posted on Twitter, masked men are seen positioning themselves next to a boat of migrants and then leaving a few minutes later without assistance. The cries of the passengers reveal the panic that is spreading on board the boat. „We will die,“ „Mommy, mommy,“ shouted some of the children.
„We don’t know exactly what happened, but according to the migrants, these men belong to the Greek Navy. They tried to tie a rope to the canoe to bring the shipwrecked back to Turkish waters,“ a member of Alarm Phone told InfoMigrants. „They made waves with their boat to try to send them back out of Greek waters. And on the other side, the Turks did the same to prevent them from returning to their waters,“ he added.
According to testimonies collected by the activists, the Greeks retrieved the boat’s engine and threw it into the water before leaving the area.
The 40 or so migrants on board, from Afghanistan and various African countries, were finally rescued a few hours later by the Turkish coastguard.
Increasingly frequent removals
This is not the first time that „push-backs“ have taken place at sea between Greece and Turkey. A Congolese man told InfoMigrants more or less the same story. „The Greeks took our petrol canister and made huge waves to make the canoe go back to the Turkish side,“ he said.
„For years, Alarm Phone has been documenting Greek Coast Guard removal operations. But these practices have increased dramatically in recent weeks and are becoming the norm in the Aegean Sea,“ said the Alarm Phone member.
„Greek Coast Guard vessels now regularly attack migrant boats, frequently disabling engines or dragging boats into Turkish waters to leave them adrift and in distress,“ the activist continued.
In an exchange on Thursday with a German MEP, the director of Frontex, the European border control agency, confirmed the existence of such removals. „It is becoming more and more obvious: the violence against people (who are) at the borders of the EU is becoming more and more brutal“, said Fabrice Leggeri, adding that Greece denies the accusations.
According to Alarm Phone, it is „not surprising that such practices continue“. „Greece is being hailed for its violent actions against migrants by the president of the European Commission, who presents the country as the ’shield‘ of Europe (…),“ the organisation said, calling for „these cynical games to stop immediately.