ANKARA – Repeating after reiterating after charging, Turkey again said that Greece is 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 made its allegations of human rights violations to the United Nations which has a history of ignoring them apart from tweets or press releases condemning pushbacks or asking for investigations.
Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the UN Feridun Sinirlioglu sent a letter of complaint to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who has shown he wants no part of the wrangling between the countries.
Despite testimony from alleged victims, witnesses, media reports and videos showing pushbacks of refugees and migrants into the sea and across land borders, Greece’s New Democracy government said they never happened.
While most of the reports have been within the last year, the letter said they’ve been going on for more than 10 years, although it was in 2015 that refugees and migrants began fleeing to Turkey first.
They were fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, primarily Afghanistan and Syria, but also sub-Saharan Africa and as far away as Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Under the deal with the EU, which promised Turkey 6 billion euros ($6.76 billion) in aid, along with visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and faster-ttack entry into the bloc in return for containing 4.4 million refugees and migrants.
Sinirlioglu said that the refugees and migrants being pushed back include wome and children in rubber dinghies and rafts and cricket vessels and that the Greek Coast Guard intercepts them at sea, resulting in numerous deaths, said Kathimerini.
He also accused Greek officials of humiliating and aggressive physical searches as well as ill-treatment that in some cases amounts to torture, as defined by Amnesty International.
According to Sinirlioglou, Greece has made a total of 16,500 pushbacks, claiming that in January alone this number reached 1,250 and that Turkey’s Coast Guard – which Greece said escorted the vessels to help them get into Greek waters – had actually saved them.
His letter also includes reference to the recent allegations made by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu about the death of 19 migrants from freezing to death at the land border at Ipsala, which Greece denied.