Greece, protest in refugees camp in Moria

Greece detains journalists for reporting on refugee situation

Turkey filed a formal protest to Greece, which the EU has asked to respect the “basic rights” of refugees. The New York Times accuses Athens of using illegal detention centres.

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned on Wednesday the Greek Ambassador to Ankara, Michael-Christos Diamessis, to issue an official protest by the Turkish government for the violations of Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean and for the arrest of journalists covering the painful situation of refugees on Greek islands such as Lesbos or Rhodes.

Diplomatic sources informed the Turkish news agency Anatolia that Diamessis was required to stop the arrests by Greece of Turkish journalists covering the situation and the treatment of refugees in the Greek islands, “where they have been reporting on the situation of asylum seekers,” said the source.

Thousands of migrants and refugees have been trying to enter Europe through Greece as Turkey announced that it would no longer close the doors to refugees going to Europe; Greece, however, has acted extremely harshly to repel attempts to cross its border, which remains closed, and has announced that it will not accept asylum applications for a month, which Ankara denounces is contrary to international law.

EU calls on Greece to investigate allegations of violence

On Wednesday, the European Union called on the Greek government for an official investigation into allegations of violence and ongoing illegals actions against refugees and asylum seekers by Greek police, who have fired heavy riot gear – including metal projectiles – causing at least three dead and multiple wounded. Many refugees report that they are robbed and ill-treated before being forced to return to Turkey naked.

“We hope that the Greek authorities will investigate any type of complaint regarding violence or illegal actions,” said Adalbert Jahnz, spokesman for the European Commission, who despite acknowledging that the Greek authorities face a difficult situation, added: “They have to face it in a moderate way, and respecting basic rights.”

In recent days there have also been numerous reports and complaints by migrants and refugees trying to reach the Greek islands, claiming that the Greek coastguards have come to shoot at them and attempt to sink their vessels in the Aegean, while in other occasions they disable their engines so that they become stranded and have to be rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.

Greece uses illegal detention centers

These warnings coincide with the publication in the The New York Times of a report denouncing that the government of Athens has been using secret and illegal detention centres in which keeps the migrants incommunicado, as part of measures to curb the new wave of refugees at its borders.

The US newspaper claims that several migrants have reported being captured while crossing the border, and that after stealing all their valuables, the Greek police beat them and forced them to return to Turkey without giving them the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or file an asylum application: an illegal practice under international law, which violates the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.

For them, we are like animals,” one of the expelled refugees told the New York Times referring to Greek police, after spending a night in one of these illegal centres without food or water, just to be forced the next day to return to Turkey.