ATHENS – A Turkish former school teacher who said she fled after a purge of civil society by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said she was prevented from getting into Greece and pushed back to her country.
She was not identified but the Stockholm Center for Freedom said she was among a group of asylum seekers from Turkey trying to get away from his crackdown after a failed coup attempt in July, 2018 that left her unable to work.
She said she was able to get across the perilous Evros River on the northern border of Greece before being harassed by a group masked, armed men who took their belongings and forced them back into Turkey where soldiers apprehended them, detaining four and releasing one of them.
She said she and the others were charged with bogus terrorism counts, which the government uses to silence critics or anyone believed associated with an exiled cleric, Fethullan Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who Erdogan said orchestrated the attempt to overthrow him.
She spoke to the site and said she was a high school teacher who was dismissed from her job in September 2016 and sentenced to two years in prison in 2021 due to her alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement. She was released pending appeal and banned from travel but fled to try to reach Germany where she said her husband and children were living. She said she had been pushed back from entering Greece previously.
“I was expecting to reunite with my family. But I cannot describe my disappointment over the things we experienced in Greece,” she said, Greece denying claims by activists and human rights groups of pushing back refugees and migrants.