From the blog

Pushbacks and lies in the highest level

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For the people that follow the news about migration was known that at least since the beginning of the year Greece, one of the three countries that until recently where entry points of irregular migration in Europe, was using the illegal tactic of pushbacks in order not to be forced and accept Migrants. I write until recently, since now we have another crisis in the borders between Poland and Belarus.

Pushbacks on Media

So Greece was accused, more than once for illegal pushbacks. Although there were reports for illegal pushbacks since 2017, early this year a reporting team from Spiegel managed to bring the issue in the spotlight (the link leads to a German article) by revealing that the European force for protecting the borders of Europe, Frontex, was covering the Greek authorities while they were sending boats of migrants back on Turkey, thus being illegal under international treaties.

Later on August the EU Commission blocked payments to the Greek Coastguard due to reports for brutal pushbacks. The EU asked from the Greek government to establish an independent committee that will examine all those accusations. As far as I know this committee was never established. In the article of Spiegel about this issues there is also a video where a illegal pushback is documented.

Just a month ago, in an article again in Spiegel, the EU Commissioner fro Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, was “shocked” by the brutality of the pushbacks in Croatia and Greece. It is really funny when a Commissioner is feeling appalled from the brutality of pushbacks, that they are being documented also with video, but at the end nothing happens. A clear indication that they are unofficial sanctioned from EU.

Just ten days ago Greece was accused for the biggest pushback in years. A boat with 382 refugees south of Crete was towed back for four days in the sea. As Guardian says, the Turkish-flagged Murat 729 had been heading for Italy when it ran into engine trouble off Crete and issued a mayday call on 28 October. NGO’s got the signal and passed it to Greek Authorities. But the result was not to tow them in the closest port but to have them towed for days around until the NGOs made it public and the Greek coastguard had to bring them to a Greek Port. As Minos Mouzourakis at Refugee Support Aegean, an NGO offering legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, said to Guardian: “What is of particular concern in this case is that the government was attempting to return people who wanted to seek asylum in Greece before an asylum procedure had taken place,”

Amnesty International Report

The center right government of Greece is denying the pushback and say that its implementing all the necessary measures to defend its borders and the EU borders. But Amnesty International does not agree. In a report of June 2021 we read :

For years, Greece has failed to take responsibility for or conduct adequate investigations into allegations of pushbacks, instead opting to deny their regular occurrence and Greek authorities’ involvement in them. Greece’s firm, monotonic refutation of pushback allegations is completely untenable in the face of the mounting evidence documenting this practice.

On top of the staggering number of incidents reported by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) between 2020-2021, the European Parliament, the CoE CPT and Commissioner for Human Rights, UNHCR, IOM and the Greek Ombudsman have all expressed concern or called for investigations into pushbacks. Yet, in 2020, Greek authorities maintained their denial, dismissing pushbacks as “fake news” fabricated by Turkey and/or smuggling networks.

Failed Press Conference

As if this was not enough, on Tuesday 9th of November in a press conference in Athens with the Greek Prime minister and the Dutch counterpart of him the Dutch reporter Ingeborg Beugel asked the Greek Prime minister a question that led to an angry answer full of lies. The question was:

“Prime minister Mitsotakis, when, at last, will you stop lying? Lying about pushbacks, lying about what is happening with the refugees in Greece?”

But lets see the video from the Greek Public television that we edited with our remarks

Press Conference 09.11.2021

Considering all that we wrote before the video and watching the video where we edited exactly the pints where he lies we can conclude only in one conclusion. The pushbacks are sanctioned from the EU. Yes they know that they are illegal but the most important part for the Northern countries of EU is that no immigrant will pass, they want to control the flow, thats why Frontex closed its eyes on the Greek puschbacks, that’s why there is no official investigation.

According with the European Convention on Human Rights pushbacks violate – among other laws – the prohibition of collective expulsions. Being an irregular migrant is not the best option to enter a country but there are International laws and procedures.

The coastguard should detain you, you have the right to apply for an asylum and the judge has the right to deny you an asylum if you are not the eligible for it. The problem on Greece is that the asylum applications needs 4 to 5 years to be cleared and nobody there wants to have the asylum seekers in “their back”. So its easier to push back.

This kind of policy will continue until something really bad happens or until the northern European countries need cheap labor. Yes I know that I am being cynical but at least I am not lying.