The Turkish interior minister on Saturday criticized the Greek coast guard for its ill-treatment of unauthorized migrants attempting to cross into Europe.
In a Twitter post addressing the Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi, Süleyman Soylu shared video footage showing Greek coast guard units forcing two boats carrying migrants into Turkish territorial waters.
"Your coast guard units are leveling up the torture and inhumane treatment every day," Soylu said, pointing to the footage in which some of the migrants were severely battered by the Greek authorities.
Soylu went on to say Greek coast guard units were responsible for the "inhumane action" and pushbacks into Turkish territorial waters and that the EU border agency, Frontex, was "complicit" in such acts, which were "ignored" by the European Union.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Coast Guard Command (ShGK) on Saturday issued a statement on a total of 28 migrants rescued on two separate occasions after they were pushed into Turkish territorial waters.
According to the statement, 17 migrants, comprising women and children, were rescued on Dec. 6 from a half-sunken lifeboat after getting stuck on an island for two days.
The statement noted that the migrants said they were stuck on the Farmakonisi Island, some 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southwest of Didim in Turkey's Aydın province, for two days. They were then captured on the island by Greek forces and taken on a Greek coast guard ship in two groups, separating women and children from men. While men were hit and kept on the ship, women and children were left on a lifeboat in Turkish territorial waters and dragged, added the statement.
The statement added that 11 migrants, including men who were separated from women and children in the previous incident, were rescued on Dec. 8 after they were dragged into Turkish territorial waters by the Greek elements.
"It was seen that they (men) were heavily battered and there were some scars on their bodies. It was also learned by their statements that their money, mobile phones and other valuable possessions were taken," it added.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people should not be expelled or returned to a country where their life or safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a social or political group.
Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara has also accused the EU of turning a blind eye to what it says is a blatant abuse of human rights.
At least six incidents where Frontex units were involved in pushbacks near the islands of Lesbos and Samos between April 28 and Aug. 19 have been documented.
While the EU's border agency is required to rescue migrants, the Frontex vessels patrolling the area sped past the overcrowded, inflatable boats, creating dangerous waves to force them to return to Turkish shores. A Frontex aircraft was also documented passing by migrants, who were seeking help at sea, but did not rescue them.
Assault by Greek police
Another incident of mistreatment of refugees by Greek security forces emerged on Friday when a video aired on social media showed four men beating two asylum-seekers in the camp on the Aegean island as they were returned from a supermarket.
Following the video where policemen keep beating the asylum-seekers even after handcuffing them, the police announced an investigation into the matter on Friday night.
Police sources said the four men claimed they hit the asylum-seekers because they were attacking passing cars and drunk.
The three Greek border patrol agents and one policeman have been charged with beating asylum-seekers outside the Kara Tepe camp in Lesbos.
The four men, charged with inflicting bodily harm, torture and breaking anti-racist laws, were brought before a prosecutor Saturday night after an investigation led by Athens' police internal affairs unit.
The asylum-seekers have returned to Kara Tepe camp which houses 7,300 migrants, including vulnerable groups, under harsh conditions.
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