Opposition MP Mustafa Yeneroğlu asked in a parliamentary question posed to the interior minister if an investigation had been launched into a claim that more than 50 refugees were thrown into the Evros River by Turkish gendarmes after they were pushed back by Greece, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
Democracy and Progress (DEVA) lawmaker Mustafa Yeneroğlu noted in his question that 50-60 Syrian and Afghan refugees were reportedly thrown into the Evros River on the order of a gendarmerie commander after they were pushed back by Greece on August 24.
A gendarmerie commander ordered soldiers to throw 45 men from the migrant group pushed back by Greece into the Evros River, Sad El Delli, one of the migrants in the group, told the Serbestiyet news website on Saturday.
“I saw with my own eyes that five people drowned,” said El Delli, who later filed a complaint with the İstanbul branch of the Lawyers Association for Freedom (ÖHD).
Yeneroğlu asked if Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had launched an investigation into the alleged event.
He further questioned whether the gendarmerie commander who allegedly gave the order has been identified and if he has been suspended from duty.
In the question Soylu was asked if the refugees who allegedly died in the incident have been identified and if their families contacted.
Soylu was further asked if his ministry has launched efforts to prevent the future occurrence of such incidents.
In early June, Greece’s migration ministry adopted a decree designating Turkey a safe country for asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia.
Athens wants to speed up repatriations to its eastern neighbor, while Turkey has been refusing to readmit the refugees that Greek authorities wanted to send back.
In addition to Syrian and Afghan refugees seeking access to the European Union, thousands of people have been forced to leave illegally Turkey because their passports have been cancelled due to an ongoing crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect. The movement denies any role in the failed coup.