Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey

Our Movement
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Athens, June 6, 2017
Press release by the FIDH Greek league, the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR)

On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen. The refoulement was witnessed and the HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved Mustafa Can, his wife and their four children, as well as Yılmaz Erdoğan, Fethullah Çatal, and one more man, whose name is still not known.

A few days ago HLHR publicized a complaint that concerned the informal refoulement of Turkish citizens seeking international protection from the state, from Greece back to Turkey. One of them is already held in a Turkish prison, and no further communication with him is possible.

The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of our country.

The systematic, as it has been shown, and coordinated refoulements of dissident asylum seekers who face persecution in their countries, constitutes a political act of unprecedented Machiavellian qualities. We would like to point out that a few days ago the Supreme Court decreed that the 8 Turkish officers will not be extradited, because their extradition could result in “inhumane, ruthless, and cruel treatment”, as well as the possibility of “...treatment that would be demeaning and degrading to their personality, which is in violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights”. In any case it is known that the European Commission in its announcement of November 9th, 2016, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. N. Melzer, and the UN Committee against Torture have all expressed their concerns about torture and maltreatment in prisons and informal detention facilities in Turkey.

The Hellenic League for Human Rights has already gathered data concerning the aforementioned violations and will continue to do so in order to effect a full investigation of these complaints from the relevant authorities, both national and international. The HLHR has already contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and will bring the matter to the attention of Greek courts and tribunals.

A certain measure of political and diplomatic equilibrium with our neighboring country is understandable. But this equilibrium should not be used to justify a policy that results in “lambs to the slaughter”. The rule of law must never debase in such a degree the value of human life and dignity.

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