Turkey’s gendarmerie released photos of Turkish asylum seekers and their children who were apprehended after being pushed back by Greek authorities, the Kronos news website reported on Wednesday.
The six Turks, four adults and two children, were seeking asylum in Greece to escape a crackdown launched by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the aftermath of a coup attempt in 2016.
After being pushed back to Turkey, the group was detained by members of the Edirne Provincial Gendarmerie Command, and their photos were shared with the private DHA news agency, which then released them.
The children of the detainees were reportedly later entrusted to the care of close relatives.
According to a statement by the Turkish Defense Ministry, 17 people, including 11 asylum seekers escaping Erdoğan’s crackdown, were detained on Wednesday after they were pushed back by Greek authorities.
For years Greece has been accused of illegally pushing asylum seekers back to Turkey, which it strongly denies.
But according to witness testimony and rights groups, summary deportations are taking place, and they are also hitting vulnerable victims of President Erdoğan’s crackdown on political dissent, which he launched using the failed coup as a pretext.
Thousands of post-coup crackdown victims had to leave the country illegally because the government had revoked their passports.
The people who wanted to flee the country to avoid the crackdown took dangerous journeys across the Evros River or the Aegean Sea. Some were arrested by Turkish security forces; some were pushed back to Turkey by Greek security; and others perished on their way to Greece.
Crackdown victims fleeing Turkey comprise people accused of membership in the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, and Kurds who actively participate in the Kurdish struggle for recognition. They are branded as terrorists, a label frequently used by Turkish authorities to legitimize its targeting of critics, legal experts say.
According to a December 2021 report by Open Democracy, the number of Turkish asylum-seekers illegally sent back home by Greek border officials rose dramatically amid a surge in migration fueled by Erdoğan’s crackdown.