Greece faces another allegation of "push back," forced and illegal deportation of illegal immigrants to the countries they arrive from. Eighty Pakistani migrants swam to the Turkish side of the Meriç (Evros) river that divides Turkey and Greece in the early hours of yesterday, with some men among them only wearing sacks. They claimed Greek soldiers stopped them on the other side of the border stripped them and seized their clothes before beating them.
Migrants said they crossed into Greece two days ago but were captured by Greek border patrol. They said soldiers seized their IDs and wallets and were held in detention without food and water. Soldiers later forced them to go back to Turkey. Women and children in the group were put on boats while others were forced to swim. Turkish police took the migrants to a hospital in the border province of Edirne.
Greece has long been the first destination for illegal immigrants setting out on a journey to Europe via Turkey, be them Syrians or nationals of remote Asian countries. Though it embraced refugees seeking permission to cross into other European countries, particularly Germany for the past three years, Greece has slowly become an unfavorable place for migrants due to worsening conditions in camps where migrants are held.
Last year, dozens of migrants who entered the country with the hope of seeking asylum were found bruised and beaten near the Turkish border and claimed they were illegally deported back to Turkey. "Pushback" is an illegal practice under international conventions and Greece never acknowledged whether its security forces were involved in pushing back the migrants or not.
Turkish media outlets say Greece "pushed back" some 4,000 illegal immigrants last year. Based on the accounts of the illegally deported migrants, Greek police officers are accused of confiscating valuable possessions of migrants and torturing them.