Turkey says Greece is pushing back refugees Turkey has sent

ANKARA — After reiterating after being charged, Turkey again said Greece was pushing back refugees and migrants that Turkey let human traffickers send in violation of an essentially suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

This time, Turkey has taken its allegations of human rights abuses to the United Nations, which usually ignores them, except for tweets or press releases condemning pushbacks or calling for investigations. .

Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN, Feridun Sinirlioglu, sent a letter of complaint to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which showed that he does not want to participate in the quarrels between the countries.

Despite testimonies from alleged victims, witnesses, media reports and videos showing pushbacks of refugees and migrants at sea and across land borders, Greece’s New Democracy government has said this is not happening. was never produced.

While most of the reports date back to last year, the letter says they have been going on for more than 10 years, although it was in 2015 that refugees and migrants started fleeing to Turkey.

They were fleeing war, conflict and economic hardship in their home countries, primarily Afghanistan and Syria, but also sub-Saharan Africa and as far away as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As part of the deal with the EU, which has promised Turkey 6 billion euros ($6.76 billion) in aid, as well as visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and faster entry in the bloc in exchange for the confinement of 4.4 million refugees and migrants.

Sinirlioglu said refugees and returned migrants include women and children in dinghies, rafts and cricket boats and that the Greek coast guard intercepts them at sea, leading to many deaths, Kathimerini said.

He also accused Greek officials of humiliating and aggressive physical searches and ill-treatment which, in some cases, amounted to torture, according to Amnesty International’s definition.

According to Sinirlioglou, Greece has carried out a total of 16,500 pushbacks, saying that in January alone the number reached 1,250 and that the Turkish coast guard – which Greece says escorted the vessels to help them enter in Greek waters – had actually saved them.

His letter also refers to recent allegations by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu of the deaths of 19 migrants who froze to death at the land border of Ipsala, which Greece has denied.

Sharon P. Juarez