28. Januar 2014 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Griechenland: Überlebende des Push-Backs bei Farmakonisi berichten · Kategorien: Griechenland, Türkei · Tags: , , , ,


Reports from press conference by survivors of Farmakonisi

On 25 January, during the press conference held by organizations and movements for human rights, thousands of people including refugees and migrant communities, women – children and various reporters participated and listened carefully to speakers who were among the survivors of the incident on 20 January in Farmakonisi.

Mr. Safi Ehsanullah, one the survivors who has lost his wife and 4 children, said:
“There were 26 of us, 23 Afghans and three Syrians in a boat that sailed from Turkey at approximately 10:00 or 10:30 at night. After almost 2 hours we were close to the Greek shore when the engine of our boat got out of order. We were not so far and if there was no help, we planned to make a human chain from the boat to the shore in order to reach the land. Suddenly the Greek coast guard appeared and from the first moment they started shouting on us not to move and talk. We were glad, as we thought that they would save us. Two of them got inside our boat and tied our boat to their own. But unexpectedly they turned back and were pulling us back to Turkey with zigzag and very high speed. Suddenly the part of the ship to which the Greek coastal guard’s ship was tied, broke off from the ship carrying the refugees, causing great damage to the boat and thus allowing water to flood the boat. The boat was old and frail, and began to sink. The guard gave the order to tie the boat again and to start pulling again, but the boat was full of water so they cut the robe and tried to escape. Refugees’ belongings, bags, etc. stuck to the coast boat engine and it started to emit smoke and there was a panic among the coast guard. They tried to extinguish the fire and it was by chance that the refugees who were still on the water could hang to coast guard ship but the guards preventing refugees to get in their boat kicking and shouting on them. One of survivors from Syria, tried saving a woman by extending her a stick from the safety of the coastal guard boat, but was brutally prevented by a member of the coastal guard, who beat the man assisting the woman”. Answering the reporters’ question, “why did they signed at the port a document saying that the coastal guard saved them and why they didn’t complained and didn’t report this at Leros Island? Safi said: “first there was no translator in our language. There was one from Pakistan that just three of us could understand a little bit. The translator couldn’t read and they wrote what they wanted and they asked us to sign without reading or understanding it. We thought that we were signing for clothes that we received upon arrival. We never signed anything like what we are hearing now from the media”. There were interventions from representatives of organizations and movements expressing their solidarity with the survivors, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They condemned the Greek and European policy at the border not saving the lives of migrants and refugees.

The president of Greek Forum of Refugees, Mr. Yonous Muhammadi – said:
“This incident is not individual. Just last year tens of victims have been registered officially, but we know there are many victims never recorded. We have very usual complaints of push backs and violence at sea or land borders. There has never been an answer to or investigation of these serious complaints, although Greece has been convicted many times by the European court of Human Rights concerning the rights of migrants and refugees crossing Greek borders. We have many cases in which the boats of migrants and asylum seekers have been pushed back close to Turkish shore and have been destroyed in the water, putting in danger the life of people on board. We have many complaints of humiliation and tortures of asylum seekers crossing borders. First it is imperative for us to grant the wish of the survivors, which is that their relatives, trapped inside the hull of the ship, be brought to land. Second we ask the EU and the Greek authorities to investigate this case seriously and take serious decisions to prevent more victims in Aegean”.

The press conference was followed by a large protest march to the Omonia police station. This was in protest at the fact that, since 24 January the survivors, who are accommodated in a hostel, have been arrested three times and brought to this police station. Related links: The Greek Coast Guard “drowned” the Asylum seekers in Farmakonisi

siehe auch: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/greek-boat-tragedy-migrant-survivors-mourn-lost-relatives

Migrants saved in Greek boat accident mourn relatives – and dispute claims Survivors say coastguards refused to help them as vessel sank and stamped on hands of those clinging to Greek boat

Helena Smith in Athens – The Guardian

Fadi Mohamed, an Afghan who lost his family when the boat sank, describes seeing coastguards kicking a refugee. Photo: Nikolas Georgiou/Demotix/Corbis Even now, eight days later, they can both still taste the sea. Just as they can still feel the water slipping through their fingers as they desperately tried to bail out the boat.
And the cries: „help me, help me, help me,“ the only words the Afghan and Syrian migrants knew how to say as the vessel went down. „We were so afraid,“ said Abdul Sabur Azizi, recalling the moments before he lost his wife and 10-year-old son to the sea.
„At some point we took the babies and held them up high, above our heads, to show that there were children on board,“ the 30-year-old murmured, his eyes fixed firmly on the floor. „The Greek coastguard didn’t care. They had guns, they were shooting in the air. We told them the boat had broken down, its engine didn’t work but all they wanted was to take us back to Turkey.“
And that, he says, is when the Greek officials got the rope, tied it to the bow of the ship and began towing it „so fast that the boat began bouncing this way and that, like a snake, across the water.“
It didn’t last long – maybe 10 minutes at most. „The waters were very calm but we were going so fast, we were flying high,“ said Ehsanula Safi, his Afghan compatriot still too visibly distressed to make mention of his dead wife and four children. „When the rope snapped the first time it made a hole in the side of the boat. The hole got bigger and bigger, and as the water gushed in we tried to get it out, first with a bucket and then with our hands.“
Eleven are believed to have died when the boat capsized. Only two bodies have been found. Of those missing, eight were under the age of 12. Of the 16 who survived all were men, with the single exception of one woman and a baby.
The events surrounding the sinking of the ship in the Aegean last week have not only triggered outrage, both in and outside Greece, but highlighted the increasingly controversial methods being used to stop immigrants from entering the EU.
Ehsanula Safi, an Afghan migrant, describes how he lost five relatives off Farmakonisi. Photograph: Nikolas Georgiou/Demotix/Corbis While Athens has denied allegations that the boat was being towed to Turkey – arguing that radar records show it was being tugged to the Greek island of Farmakonisi when the tragedy occurred – refugees insist they were the victims of an illegal „push-back“ operation of the kind frequently indulged in by authorities to keep human cargo at bay.
More than 150 migrants, the majority of them asylum seekers from Syria, have perished in „push backs“ – a policy pursued since traffickers began taking the treacherous sea route from the Turkish coast to the Greek isles following the construction of a metal barrier along the land border that divides the two neighbours.
„There was a lot of pushing, a lot of kicking,“ said Azizi with a wince. „Most of those who died were in the hold. Those of us who fell in the sea tried to hang on to the coastguard vessel for dear life but they didn’t want us to. They were stomping on our hands with their shoes.“
The conservative-dominated coalition of the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, has ordered an investigation. But as the controversy has intensified so has the language. Last week, the EU commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks, said the incident bore all the hallmarks of a failed collective expulsion. „The Greek government has pledged to put an end to the illegal practice,“ he railed. „I urge them to implement their promise.“
As anti-racist groups took to the streets, Athens‘ shipping minister, Miltiades Varvitsiotis, countered that Muižnieks was trying to create a political issue out of the tragedy. Moreover, he claimed, survivors had changed their accounts of the incident.
„A father who lost his companion and their four children states clearly that the coastguard ’saved us,'“ said the politician, adding that the sudden change was „striking and curious“.
Seated in the migrant centre where he has agreed to speak, Safi, the man in question, shakes his head in disbelief. At 39, he has lost everything. „Nothing makes sense,“ he sobbed. „All I had wanted to do was get to Europe. Now we don’t want anything: asylum, protection, bread, a home. All we want is the bodies of those we love. And justice for those who did this to us.“

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