The Hellenic Coast Guard attempted to set an asylum-seeker on fire, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu stated Saturday as Athens’ rights violations and attacks on migrants and asylum-seekers continue.
"Greek Law Enfor. Agencies seek to burn people, pouring gasoline on them, which indicates a massacre under the watch of Europe," Soylu said on Twitter.
"Europe shall go down in history as instigator of this malignancy, by spoiling Greece and keeping silent to what's going on there @EU_Commission," he added, criticizing the bloc once again for ignoring Greece’s acts toward migrants.
Turkish Coast Guard Command announced Saturday that it rescued 41 asylum-seekers in the Aegean Sea who were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters, with one person set on fire by the Greek coast guard.
The command said on its website that coast guard teams were dispatched to rescue asylum-seekers early Saturday off the Çeşme district in Izmir province.
An asylum-seeker with burns on his leg was handed over to emergency medical personnel.
Additionally, Soylu shared footage on Twitter that showed Greek forces pushing asylum-seekers into Turkish territorial waters.
Speaking about the incident in the video, one of the victims said: "There was a woman. She said, 'You go.' But we did not go. She brought oil, spilled it over us and set us on fire. The police said, 'You got burnt because you did not go to Turkey.'"
"They brought us here with our own boat and left us at the sea," the victim added.
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.
The pressure intensified after media and rights organizations documented multiple cases of Frontex border officers, alongside national counterparts in EU countries, forcing migrants back, particularly along Greece's sea border with Turkey. At least six incidents in which Frontex units were involved in pushbacks near the islands of Lesbos and Samos between April 28 and Aug. 19 have been documented.
"Of course, irregular migration is a crime, but people who resort to this method do not lose their rights of being a human. Stripping the captured illegal migrants naked, tying their hands with plastic handcuffs and throwing them to die in the freezing waters of the Aegean Sea in the middle of winter without their shoes, there is nothing compatible with either law, humanity or any other value.”
“Europe, unfortunately, formed a joint agency for their own borders called Frontex. But, what it actually formed was an agency of inhumanity,” he added.