Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) has revealed the cause of death of a Turkish asylum seeker who crossed the Aegean Sea and was later found unconscious in a boat that was pushed back from Greece to the Turkish coast in October was the torture he was subjected to prior to pushback, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Kronos news website.
Barış Büyüksu, 30, who entered Greece via the Aegean on Oct. 20, was pushed back to Turkey along with 14 Afghan refugees. Found unconscious in a boat that had washed up on the coast of Muğla on Oct. 22, Büyüksu was taken to a hospital by the Muğla Coast Guard where he subsequently died.
According to an ATK report, Büyüksu’s death occurred “as a result of widespread soft tissue bleeding associated with multiple rib fractures due to general body trauma.” It was stated in the report that there is a “causal link” between the trauma Büyüksu suffered and his death and that there is no other contributing factor to the cause of death.
Numerous bruises, deep scratches and wounds were detected on the back of Büyüksu’s neck, back, shoulders, eye area, lips, chest, hands, feet and knees during the external examination while deep bleeding was detected during his internal examination, Kronos said.
Büyüksu, who was imprisoned in Turkey in 2011 due to an altercation that involved the police, was released on probation in 2022. His family said he had left for France to start a new life.
According to an earlier statement by the Turkish Interior Ministry, Büyüksu showed signs of beating and mistreatment when he was found. The other survivors on the boat stated that there was a non-Afghan and Turkish-speaking person at the place where they were abducted and mistreated who was tortured by electric shock, and that they were put on the boat together and forced back into Turkish territorial waters. It was later determined that this person was Turkish citizen Büyüksu.
The Aegean Boat Report, a Norwegian NGO that monitors the attempts of migrants to cross the Aegean Sea as well as the human rights violations committed against them, including illegal pushbacks, said in its 2022 report that a total of 988 pushback cases were registered in the sea last year – an increase of 57.1 percent over 2021 – involving 26,133 men, women and children who tried to reach safety in Europe.
Noting that it is the legal right of people to enter a country with or without paperwork if they intend to apply for asylum, the NGO added that the Greek government has significantly increased the illegal pushback of refugees since January 2020, with some victims stating that they have been beaten by Greek officers before being forced back across borders or into the sea.
“The Greek government categorically denies any involvement in these atrocities, but the evidence against the Greek government is overwhelming, there is no doubt who is responsible,” the NGO said.