Greece continues to push asylum seekers back to Turkey

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AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS

Greek border forces along the Evros River pushed 59 migrants back into Turkey on Friday morning, signaling the continuation of a policy that started before the arrival of the new government.

The pushback was reported by Zübeyir Koçulu, an Athens-based Turkish journalist who tweeted, “It seems nothing has changed on the Evros regarding pushbacks following a recent government change in Greece.”

A total of 59 asylum seekers, nine of them Turkish and the remainder Afghans, Syrians and Somalis, were illegally sent back to Turkey, according to Koçulu.

“The Greek police collected the group soon after their arrival and held them in custody at the Tychero police station for four hours,” he said. “After seizing their phones, security officers pushed the 59 people through the river near Soufli by force, perpetrating violence, according to witnesses.”

He further claimed that Turkish political asylum seekers in the group were detained by Turkish security forces soon after the pushback. Three children in the group were delivered to their relatives.

The Evros River, which forms most of the land border between the two countries, was one of the main routes used by Turkish asylum seekers fleeing government persecution as well as migrants of other nationalities until a series of violent pushback operations a few months ago stopped the flow.

“Ironically, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the new PM of Greece, fled with his parents into exile in Turkey when he was a year old in 1968 during the Greek junta,” Koçulu said. “He knows what it is to be a migrant from his own experience.”

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