Turkish asylum seekers posted a video on social media on Thursday from the Greek border town Feres, asking Greek authorities for urgent help and protection.
The group, which includes women, young children and infants, appeared to have just crossed the Evros River in pouring rain. A baby appears to have been wrapped in a plastic bag for protection against the elements.
In the video the asylum seekers said there were people with chronic illnesses among them who needed urgent medical attention.
The video was circulated on social media, with human rights advocates calling on Greek authorities to send help and protect the group from possible pushback to Turkey.
Rebecca Harms, a former member of the European Parliament, shared the video on Twitter and said everyone should have access to a fair asylum procedure. “Pushbacks have terrible consequences,” she added.
Later in the day it was reported that the Greek police had taken the group into custody to start the asylum process.
The asylum seekers comprise former public servants who were summarily dismissed from their jobs after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.
Thousands of public servants were jailed, and scores of others had to flee Turkey to avoid government crackdown.
Turkish nationals are among the largest groups requesting asylum in European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. Turkish nationals seeking asylum in Germany increased by 216 percent in 2022, putting Turkey third among countries with the most asylum applications in the country.
Purge victims who wanted to flee the country to avoid the post-coup crackdown took dangerous journeys across the Evros River or the Aegean Sea. Some were arrested by Turkish security forces and some were pushed back to Turkey by Greek security, while others perished on their way to Greece.