They beat us with an iron rod and left us at sea with our children, a migrant said, describing the violence by Greek elements upon being rescued by the Turkish coast guard.
The Turkish coast guard received information that irregular migrants were in a lifeboat off the western province of Izmir’s Çeşme district and went to the area.
The teams rescued 19 irregular migrants, including two children, 15 Palestinians and four Eritreans, at a distance of 2.1 nautical miles from the island of Chios and 1.9 nautical miles from the Turkish mainland.
One of the two Palestinian children was 1 1/2-year-old Rozan Hannevi and the other 3-year-old Fatin Hannevi.
A 16-year-old, Ahmet Hannevi, said that he made the dangerous journey toward Europe because there is no work in Palestine.
“The Greeks caught us on the mainland. They beat us and the women with an iron. They took our phones and money and left us out at sea on a lifeboat. We know how to swim but we had children with us,” he underlined, pointing out that the young children were unable to swim.
“We were anxious that the lifeboat could capsize. We wanted to go to the Netherlands to start a new life,” he said.
The migrants were freezing from the cold night weather and were immediately given thermal blankets by the Turkish coast guard as well as hygiene packages from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which includes clothes, shoes and daily protein needs.
Greece has been continuing its policy of forcefully pushing back migrants at sea as a way to fight irregular migration with no regard for human rights and international practices.
Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum-seekers, stating it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
Turkey's five Aegean provinces – Çanakkale, Balıkesir, Izmir, Muğla and Aydın – are prime spots for refugees seeking to leave Turkey for the European Union, with Greek islands within sight of the Turkish coast.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands have made short but perilous journeys across the Aegean to reach northern and western Europe in search of a better life.
Hundreds of people have died at sea as many boats carrying refugees often sink or capsize. The Turkish Coast Guard Command has rescued thousands of others.
Turkey and Greece are key transit points for migrants looking to cross into Europe, fleeing war and persecution to start new lives. Turkey has accused Greece of large-scale pushbacks, summary deportations and denying migrants access to asylum procedures, which is a violation of international law. Ankara also accuses the EU of turning a blind eye to this blatant abuse of human rights.
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements that 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 of a social or political group.
In another incident, the Turkish coast guard on Monday rescued 32 irregular migrants in a boat as well as four others that were thrown into the sea by Greek elements off western Aydın province’s Kuşadası district.
According to a statement by the Coast Guard Command, a team was sent as soon as information about the migrants was received.
The teams rescued four irregular migrants who were thrown into the sea by Greek elements and made it to land on their own.
Upon the information that there was a group of irregular migrants in rubber boats off the coast of the Kuşadası district, the Turkish coast guard boats went to the area, rescued 32 irregular migrants pushed back into Turkish territorial waters and brought them ashore.
The migrants were referred to provincial migration offices.