ANKARA – A 30-year-old Turkish migrant who was smuggled to the Greek island of Kos was detained, tortured and killed, Turkish police alleged, an incident coming ahead of national elections in both countries and as Greece has denied pushing back refugees and asylum seekers.
A Voice of America reported outlined gruesome details of the claim but said that it couldn’t verify the accuracy of the reports of the death of Barış Büyüksu, a university graduate, nor why he had to pay smugglers to take him to the island instead of traveling legally as a Turkish citizen.
Greece’s New Democracy government denied any knowledge of what allegedly had happened.
Many Turks have fled their country in the ongoing wake of repression brought by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a failed 2016 coup attempt that saw him purge civil society, the courts, military and jail journalists.
VOA said that the case has led to demands for Turkey to also investigate what happened and the ongoing assertions by human rights groups, activists, and non-governmental organizations that Greece is unlawfully pushing back asylum seekers.
Büyüksu didn’t want to stay in Greece, the report said, leaving the Turkish city of Izmir and using Greece as a jumping-off point to try to reach France and find work, as several friends reportedly had done.
The smugglers gave him a fake Bulgarian identity card, it was said, the report adding that on Oct. 21, 2022 while waiting for a ferry to Athens that witnesses said they saw him detained by police and shoved into an ummarked black van.
The following day, his family received a call from Turkish police, who told them their son was dead – and that his body bore signs of torture, the report added, but which VOA said it couldn’t verify.
THE TORTURE REPORTS
The Turkish Coast Guard says it found Büyüksu, badly injured but still alive, in an inflatable boat that had allegedly been pushed back into Turkish waters and was also carrying 15 Palestinian asylum-seekers.
Baris’ father, Reyis Büyüksu, “A policeman from Bodrum central police station … said your son has been killed by Greeks and said that I need to be at the police station at 8:00 in the morning. We picked up the body from the forensic medicine institute and brought it here and buried him,” he said.
“My son being killed is not only a problem of Turkey, but it is also a problem for humanity, this is a crime against humanity. We don’t want any other family to experience this,” he said.
His wife, Saime Büyüksu, said her son’s death devastated the family. “He wanted to marry, he had a girlfriend, he had dreams, and he was saying ‘Mother, we should build a house, I will buy gold and I will have a wedding when I come back.’ He went with his dreams to work there. But his dead body came back to me,” she said.
An autopsy was carried out in Constantinople and the initial findings, said VOA, “recorded injuries consistent with torture: cuts and bruises covering his face and body, and internal bleeding.”
The news site said that copies of statements given Turkish police by others on the boat who said they were also detained in Greece said they were all stripped naked and beaten and that they heard him being tortured in another room, including by what they believed to be electrocution,” but no verification.
Turkish authorities told VOA that they are still investigating Büyüksu’s death and did not confirm whether the issue had been raised with Greece nor why it took three months for the story to come out.