Turkish refugees attacked and pushed back from Greek shore by unidentified masked men

A group of Turkish asylum seekers claimed that following an attempt to cross the Turkish border via the Evros River in northeastern Greece on Friday evening, they were pushed back to the Turkish side after being beaten by masked men with batons, the IPA news agency reported.

Tuğba Özkan, a journalist in the group, told IPA News on the phone that the group of 15 people fleeing persecution in Turkey crossed the Turkish-Greek border on Friday at 9 p.m. near the town of Soufli.

When they set foot on Greek soil, however, she said a group of masked men beat them and pushed them back across the river to the Turkish side, where a post-coup crackdown targeting Gülen movement followers has led to the prosecution of over half a million people.

A family of four from the group reportedly was apprehended by Turkish security forces, and the parents were detained.

The remaining 11 people, including Özkan, attempted to cross the border for a second time.

The group managed to cross the Evros safely in their second attempt, she said, and the group was hiding from a possible attack when two Greek police cars found them.

Greek police detained the group at around 2 p.m. on Saturday near the border and took them into custody, according to the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), a nongovernmental organization defending human rights and fighting against illegal pushbacks in the region.

The group applied for asylum in Greece and is expected to be released in a few days after the official registration is completed, according to GCR lawyers.

According to IPA, a family trying to seek asylum in Greece was pushed back into Turkey by masked, armed men dressed in camouflage on Monday.

H. Gül, S. Gül and their three children arrived in Greece but were denied entry on Monday.

According to witnesses who spoke to IPA News on condition of anonymity, at 5:30 a.m. local time a group of eight Turkish asylum seekers entered Greece by boat via the Evros River. The Gül family was among them.

After arriving in Greece, the group headed towards the border village of Thourio, where Greek police detained them at around 9:40 a.m.

According to witnesses, police detained the Gül family, failing to notice three other Turkish asylum seekers seated at the next table.

Relatives then lost communication with the family. The first word came from the provincial gendermarie station in the Turkish border city of Edirne. An officer informed family members that H. and S. Gül were in custody and instructed the relatives to come and take the children.

Both S. Gül and H. Gül were reportedly arrested by an Edirne court on Monday.

Zübeyir Koçulu, a journalist reporting from Turkish-Greek border, tweeted that 32 Turkish political asylum seekers had been pushed back to Turkey in the last four days after they arrived in Greece. Seventeen of them were arrested in Turkey, while 11 managed to cross the border again and are being held in custody.

The Greek police and military frequently push back refugees who try to enter the country from Turkey. This is the first time that Turkish families with children have been beaten in Greece.

Several push-backs of Turkish nationals were recorded in 2017. Prominent journalist Murat Çapan along with four other Turks were forced to board a boat bound for Turkish territory near the village of Serem in Evros, where they were detained by Turkish security forces. All five adults were arrested. Çapan was sentenced to 22.5 years for two news stories that were critical of the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government in the Nokta magazine.

In violation of European Union and international laws, Greek authorities appear to be allowing push-backs of Turks fleeing the persecution of the Erdoğan government. (SCF with turkishminute and IPA News Agency)

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