On the 15th of December, Alarm Phone received a call from 15 people stranded on Lipsi, a small island between Leros and Samos. They reported the situation to the Hellenic Coast Guard and Port Authority, but received no further news from the authorities. Remaining in contact with the group, they later discovered they had been pushed back to Turkish waters, having been beaten and robbed of their possessions and forced onto a small life raft. The Turkish Coast Guard confirmed the rescue.
Border Violence Monitoring Network have taken testimonies from 207 separate pushbacks from Greece to Turkey since 2019. These have involved thousands of people illegally removed from the territory by masked men who cannot be identified and high levels of violence. This figure represents only a small number of the incidents which have occurred. Each pushback is illegal. Every single one puts lives at risk either immediately, through the violence enacted, or because they are returned to a country where they are at risk without having had their asylum claim heard. There are no comprehensive figures for the number of deaths caused as a direct result of pushbacks, many border deaths are invisible with bodies taken by the Evros river or the Aegean sea, or buried without names far from home and without the presence or knowledge of their loved ones.
This article first appeared in Are You Syrious?
Image: @Border_Violence Since 2020, BVMN has recorded 16 testimonies from people on the move who have been intercepted and apprehended in Hungary and North Macedonia and pushed back to Serbia and Greece respectively, with the involvement of Czech officers.