In the village of Neo Cheimonio, located ten minutes from the Evros river which separates Greece and Turkey, the refoulement of refugees, a practice contrary to international law, is an open secret. At rush hour, at the café, the inhabitants, well over fifty, evoke the resumption of migratory flows. “Every day, we prevent the illegal entry of 900 people,” said Greek Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos on June 18, explaining the increase in migratory pressure exerted by Ankara.
“But we don’t see the migrants. They are locked up, except those who work for the police, ”says a pensioner. His sidekick adds: “They live in the containers of the police station and can come and go. You meet them at the river, where they work, or at nightfall when they go shopping. ” This news “recruits” of the Greek police have replaced the farmers and fishermen who blocked the road themselves a few years ago, with those they call “illegals”.
“Slaves” of the Greek police
According to the NGOs Human Rights Watch or Josoor, this trend has often returned since 2020 in the testimonies of victims of “pushbacks”. [les refoulements illégaux de migrants]. Following border tensions in March 2020, when Ankara threatened to let thousands of migrants into Europe, Greek authorities reportedly stepped up the practice to prevent their troops from getting too dangerously close to Turkish territory. , confirm three police officers posted at the border. This forced migrant labor “enjoys political support. No police officer would act alone, ”adds an officer.
Also read the archive (2020): Article reserved for our subscribers Recep Tayyip Erdogan demands the overhaul of his migration agreement with the European Union
Athens has always denied resorting to illegal refoulement of refugees. Contacted by Le Monde and its partners, the Greek Ministry of Civil Protection did not respond to our requests.
Over the past few months, Le Monde and its Lighthouse Reports partners – Der Spiegel, ARD Report Munchen and The Guardian with the help of a “Consolidated Rescue Group” Facebook page – have been able to interview six migrants who said they had been the “slaves” of the Greek police, forced to carry out covert and violent “pushback” operations. In exchange, these small hands of Greek migration policy have been promised a one-month residence permit allowing them to organize the continuation of their journey to northern Europe.
You have 69.46% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.