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Greece pushes migrants fleeing Ankara’s persecution back to Turkey

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Greece allegedly pushed 10 Turkish asylum seekers who had crossed the Evros River on a dinghy back to Turkey on Wednesday, the Tr724 news website reported.

According to the report, Greek soldiers took custody of the Turkish migrants, comprising three women, four men and three minors, and pushed them back to Turkey on a boat after confiscating their money and personal belongings.

The asylum seekers were promptly detained by Turkish gendarmes upon their refoulement to Turkey. One of the children was disabled, Tr724’s report states.

The alleged victims of the refoulement reportedly fled arrest warrants issued on terror charges on accusations of membership in the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

The Turkish government considers the movement’s followers “terrorists” and has been conducting a large-scale crackdown targeting them.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government accuse the Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. Several probes into the allegation by the intelligence agencies of the EU member states concluded that Erdoğan’s coup narrative was not plausible.

“The attribution of blame solely to the Gülenists is especially important because it has justified and sustained an effort by the government to remove, root and branch, perceived Gülenists from positions of public influence in Turkey,” a report by the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee reads.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in March 2019 stated that police had detained more than half a million people in the post-coup crackdown over alleged Gülen links.

The potential threat that awaits Gülenists in Turkey who sought haven in Europe renders the Greek officers’ alleged conduct a violation of the non-refoulement principle, enshrined in article 33(1) of the 1951 UN Convention.

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his [or her] life or freedom would be threatened on account of his [or her] race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,” the article stipulates.

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