Brussels-based NGO demonstrates against illegal pushbacks

A Brussels-based human rights monitor on Sunday organized a demonstration in front of the Brussels Central Train Station against pushbacks at the Turkish-Greek border, the Tr724 news website reported.

Solidarity with OTHERS invited Dutch and Belgian artists to raise awareness of illegal pushbacks at Europe’s borders. The artists drew pictures of the victims’ ordeals at the border and demanded that such practices end immediately.

Some victims who eventually managed to arrive in Europe were also present at the demonstration and told their stories to the public. They repeated the demand for all pushbacks to end immediately and said they did not want future asylum seekers to experience such inhumane treatment.

The event was shared on Twitter with the hashtag #StopPusbacks.

According to a previous Amnesty International report, Greek border forces violently and illegally detained groups of refugees before summarily returning them to Turkey.

The practice of migrant pushbacks in Greece has become so bad that even people who have applied for asylum and have been in the country for some time are being picked up and deported, the rights group said.

According to the report pushbacks are not only taking place in border areas. People are also being apprehended and detained far into the Greek mainland before being transported to the Evros region to be illegally returned to Turkey.

In an interview with the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) Turkish asylum seekers said they were sent back to Turkey via the Evros River by Greek authorities. They said all their belongings, including their mobile phones, were taken from them and they were made to board a small rubber boat. According to victims, some asylum seekers had been brutally beaten by authorities before they were sent back to Turkey.

Ayşe Erdoğan, a young woman who was sent back to Turkey on May 4, 2019, said Greek officers notified the Turkish gendarmerie about the pushback. Gendarmes were waiting for them at the Turkish border when they arrived, and Erdoğan was arrested upon arrival.

Turkish asylum seekers said Greek authorities need to be aware that by sending them to Turkey, they are sending them back to prison.

An investigation by the European Parliament found that the European Union’s border and coast guard agency Frontex has failed to protect the rights of people at EU borders by failing to take action to address reports of migrant pushbacks.

Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, earlier called for EU member states to take a stand against pushbacks at borders and clearly oppose attempts to legalize this illegal practice.

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