Greek border units beat migrants, forcefully push them to Turkey
Migrants stripped by Greek border units pictured at an unspecified location in Edirne, Turkey, near the Greek border, June 28, 2021. (Defense Ministry Handout)

Turkish border guards detained dozens of irregular migrants who were strip-searched and beaten by Greek officials across the border, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry noted that some 42 irregular migrants, including 12 naked individuals, were detained in Edirne province near the Greek border.

The border units allowed the migrants to cross into the Nazımbey Çiftliği area to fulfill their urgent needs.

The migrants told the Turkish border units that the Greek side did not give them food or water, mistreated them, stripped them and forced them to cross into Turkey.

They were transferred to the Edirne Provincial Gendarmerie Command, the ministry said.

Similar news and reports of the ill-treatment of migrants by Greece have been circulating.

The Greek reaction to refugees has been harsh. Several refugees were killed and many battered, attacked and teargassed by Greek forces. Greek forces have even attempted to sink the rubber boats of refugees trying to cross the Aegean.

Turkey already hosts nearly 4 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world. Officials say the country cannot handle another refugee wave.

Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.

In recent years, Turkey and Greece have been key transit points for migrants aiming to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives.

Several rights groups and Turkey have accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks and summary deportations without access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. They also accuse the European Union of turning a blind eye to what they say is a blatant abuse of human rights.

Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements that outline 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 of a social or political group.

On March 3, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that Greece's practice of pushing irregular migrants back to Turkey amounts to a clear violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law.

Furthermore, a joint investigation by several international news outlets reported in October that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, had been complicit in maritime pushback operations to drive away migrants attempting to enter the EU via Greek waters. A month later, Brussels-based news outlet EUobserver revealed that Frontex exchanged letters with Greek authorities on Athens' orders to push back migrants to Turkish waters.