Greek coastguards sink migrants' boat

Migrant thrown into the sea by Greek coastguards, dies drowned

Turkish government has been denouncing for years that Greece abandons rescued immigrants at sea, an illegal and inhumane practice.

An migrant thrown by Greek coastguards into the sea during a “pushback” in Aegean waters, near the coast of Turkey, drowned because he could not swim, announced late yesterday the Minister of Interior of Turkey, a country that for years has been denouncing the illegal practices of the Greek authorities with migrants as well as the mistreatment and human rights violations that they suffer upon arrival in Greece.

Through his official Twitter account, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu confirmed that two migrants had been rescued by Turkish coastguards off the coast of Çeşme, in the Turkish province of İzmir, but that another migrant had drowned after Greek coastguards captured them and threw them into the sea, abandoning them to their fate.

Soylu, who considered the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) also responsible for what happened and for allowing these illegal practices by Greece, shared a video on Twitter in which one of the migrants rescued alive recounts shortly after being saved his tragic experience; the man, who appears in the video with his face blurred for security reasons, explains that after capturing them the Greek coastguards stealed all their money and mobile phones.

According to the witness, later the Greek coastguards threw them into the sea, abandoning them to their fate – a common practice for years by Greek authorities – and with the only help of life jackets that, according to the man, were too small and therefore were unusable.

“He told the coastguards that he couldn’t swim, but they didn’t listen to him”

“The Greek coastguards gave us life jackets before abandoning us at sea… but they were for children, they were too small. We couldn’t use them. My cousin told them that he couldn’t swim, but they didn’t listen to him. They threw us into the water, and he drowned right there. His last words were ‘I can’t swim, I don’t know how to swim!’ ”, told the witness. He and his brother – father of the deceased – were able to swim to a nearby island, where they were rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard.

Although it is an illegal practice denounced for years by Turkey, in recent months there has been an important increase in the number of reports about migrants trying to reach the Greek islands of the Aegean and that, after being captured, are thrown by Greek coastguards into the sea, where they are abandoned to their fate and end up drowned or rescued by Turkish coastguards. The Turkish government, which denounces that this type of practice is contrary to human rights and international law, has documented many cases where Greek coastguards sink boats with migrants to prevent them from reaching Greek territory.