Greece strips and beats 13 Moroccan migrants, pushes them back to Turkey

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Thirteen Moroccan nationals who had illegally crossed into Greece from the Turkish province of Edirne were stripped and beaten before they were illegally sent back to Turkey, according to Turkish media reports on Friday.

After they were detained, the migrants were left thirsty and hungry, stripped of their money, valuables and clothes and beaten with sticks and batons by Greek border officers, local media reports said.

The Moroccan nationals, who were then illegally pushed back to Turkey across the Evros River, took refuge in a construction site in Edirne that they managed to reach, with some fainting from exhaustion.

Construction workers who found the migrants with wounds and bruises on their bodies gave them food and clothing and reported the situation to the authorities.

Police officers took the migrants to the Sultan 1st Murat State Hospital in Edirne for treatment, according to local media reports.

There are numerous reports indicating that Greece pushes refugees and migrants back at Europe’s borders and exposes them to human rights abuses. The consistency of these practices reveals that it is a de facto policy of border management which requires the coordination of multiple Greek authorities.

According to data collected by The Guardian based on reports from United Nations agencies as well as the databases of civil society organizations, European countries pushed back 40,000 migrants, forcibly in most cases, between January 2020 and May 2021, and more than 2,000 migrants died during these pushbacks.

A total of 6,230 pushbacks by Greece took place between January 2020 and May 2021, according to a report by the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN).

A report by Amnesty International published in early June detailed the practices of Greek border forces of violently and illegally detaining groups of refugees and migrants before summarily returning them to Turkey, in a breach of the country’s human rights obligations under EU and international law.

The pushbacks were not limited to border areas, as people were also being apprehended and detained far into the Greek mainland before being transported to the Evros region to be illegally returned to Turkey, according to the report.

In February and March 2020, Greece had violently pushed back refugees and migrants in response to Turkey’s unilateral opening of the land border. Documenting incidents from June to December 2020, the Amnesty report had demonstrated that human rights violations at Greece’s borders have become an entrenched practice.

Greece has toughened its migration policy since conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power in 2019. Border patrols have increased, asylum processes have been speeded up and benefits have been slashed, even for refugees who are granted asylum.

The country has been accused by rights groups of repeatedly pushing back migrants in violation of international law. Government officials have denied the claims.

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