People in masks attacked the boats with refugees trying to reach the shores of Greece, pierce the boat with a knife and break the motor. Who is behind this – an Amateur against the state or the Greek government?
“Mom, mom, we’re gonna die!” – in a panic screaming baby at the sight of how men in masks attacked their little boat. 4 Jun the footage on Twitter published AlarmPhone – NGO running a hotline for refugees in distress at sea. Employees of the organization immediately send all incoming messages to the coast guard and trying to ensure that people were really helped.
The recent reports of attacks on boat refugees has significantly increased. For example, during the incident on June 4 masked men deliberately broke the engine motor boats with refugees on Board and left people helpless in the open sea. According to the volunteer AlarmPhone on duty that day, the incident occurred in the waters of the Aegean sea between Greece and Turkey. According to the European border service Frontex, to date, refugees often choose this route.
“He punctured our boat with a knife and damaged the engine “
June 5-the distress call was sent, the other boat also were in Greek territorial waters. Among the 19 refugees on Board was 16-year-old native of Afghanistan Farhad (name changed), who lost his mother and sister on the way to Turkey and was trying alone to get to Europe. To pay for the services of illegal operators, the teenager four months working in the Turkish factory.
On 5 June, when he together with other refugees tried to cross the sea, to him from Greece approached the other boat: there were five people in masks. “One stayed behind the wheel, two beat us with sticks, and one punctured our boat with a knife and damaged the motor. Fifth just watched the scene,” says Farhad DW.
Who is behind the attacks on the refugees?
During the attack, the refugees were afraid to shoot what was happening on the camera, but after the departure of the intruders Farhad captured the damage caused to them. DW analyzed Satyam staff and they made sure of their authenticity. The video shows a hole in the boat, damaged the engine and the people in desperation jumping into the water and pushing the boat towards the Greek island of Lesbos.
The video also clearly shows the boat of the Greek coast guard, and next to it a small boat. An Afghan refugee is convinced that people in masks acting on the instructions of the Greek coast guard. However, it is difficult to prove, because of frames depicting the attack, as a rule, no, people in masks do not wear uniforms, and their boats do not have markings.
After the attack boat, which was Farhad, a few hours of drifting in the open sea and continued to lose air. Instead of helping, the Greek patrol boat swam to the boat and tried to raise a wave to push the boat refugees back into Turkish territorial waters. In the end, the refugees picked up by the Turkish coast guard: at that point the boat was almost blown away. 16-year-old Farhat was again forced to return to Turkey. This happened to him five times already.
Athens denied involvement in the attacks
Investigative journalists from Bellingcat and platforms Lighhouse Reports meanwhile managed to establish that the boat of attackers who attacked the refugees on June 4, owned by a Greek coast guard ship that was patrolling the area that day.
Greek authorities, however, categorically deny any involvement in the attacks against refugees in their territorial waters. In response to the query DW to the coast guard of the state explained that this Agency protects sea borders of the EU, observing all provisions of national and international law, and all charges in its address are misinformation.
Dozens of attacks over three months
Despite this, videos and testimonies available to DW, saying that attacks on boats are no longer isolated and gradually become a violent strategy of intimidation of the refugees violate national and international law.
Concerned about what is happening in the Office of the UN high Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). According to the representative of the Greek branch of the organization Boris Chechikova, for the period from March 2020 UNHCR has recorded several dozen such cases. UN urges Greek government to investigate these incidents.
Meanwhile, human rights activists working in the region, confident that the law violates not only the Greeks. In many cases, the sailors of the Turkish coast guard just calmly watched and filmed the attack on the boat at the camera instead of coming to the aid of victims. “Both sides (Greek and Turkish.) play their games at the expense of vulnerable people. And it seems that Greece has got carte Blanche from the EU”, – says in an interview with DW founder of Norwegian NGOs Aegean Boat Report Tommy Olsen, which from 2017 will gather statistics about boats of refugees reaching the Greek shores.