Turkish officer ordered gendarmes to throw refugees pushed back by Greece into river, causing the death of at least 3

An officer in Turkey’s border city of Edirne ordered gendarmes to throw refugees pushed backed by Greece into the Evros River, causing the death of at least three refugees, one of the survivors claimed.

In an interview with the Serbestiyet news website Sad El Delli said the incident took place on Tuesday. The group crossed to the Greek side of the river around at 1:00 a.m. and was detained at around 3:00 a.m. by Greek security forces. They stayed in detention for approximately eight hours and then were pushed back to Turkey.

“After the Greek security forces pushed us back to Turkey at around 11:00 a.m., an officer separated the women from the group and said, ‘You’re free to go, you can return to İstanbul if you want’,” El Delli recounted. “Then he ordered the gendarmes to throw us into the river in groups of five.”

According to El Delli’s account some of the gendarmes begged the officer not to make them throw the refugees into the river, but they were forced to after he made death threats. “Let them die,” the officer said according to El Delli, “just like our soldiers getting killed on the Syrian border. Let them die here.”

El Delli also claimed that the officer recorded the incident and said “Good bye” to them with a smile on his face.

El Delli says he saw two Syrians and one Afghan drown in the river. “I was about to drown [too]. I was saved by a Palestinian and an Afghan refugee,” he said.

Survivors were able to make it to the Greek side again. Tired, hungry and thirsty they decided to head for a Greek security post. After staying there for four or five hours, they were again sent back to Turkey at around 10:00 p.m. and decided to go to İstanbul.

El Delli said they talked about their ordeal with officials from the Lawyers Association for Freedom (ÖHD) and that they expected ÖHD to file criminal charges this week.

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