Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has accused the Greek coastguard of handcuffing seven asylum seekers and throwing them into the Aegean Sea.
The minister made the accusations after the Turkish coastguard claims it rescued migrants in the Aegean who were found with their hands bound with plastic handcuffs. One migrant was found dead, while two others were found alive, and the remaining four are said to be missing, newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.
Minister Soylu made the accusations on Twitter which included footage of the alleged rescue operation of the two migrants, writing: “Greek coast guard units battered seven migrants tonight, took their belongings, tied their hands in plastic handcuffs, and threw them to their deaths in the sea without lifejackets or boats.”
A later report from Turkish newspaper Hurriyet claimed that the bodies of at least three migrants had been found so far, citing a statement from the İzmir Governor Office.
The newspaper also claimed that a group of migrants who had crossed the land border illegally into Bulgaria had complained that Bulgarian authorities had beaten and robbed them before they were forced back to Turkey.
The Turkish interior minister’s accusation comes nearly a year after he announced that the Turkish government would allow migrants to travel to the Greek border when the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic ends.
UN Calls on EU to Stop Migrant Pushbacks at Its Borders https://t.co/9oBEcOGBHH
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 30, 2021
George Koumoutsakos, the Greek Alternate Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, reacted to Soylu’s statement last year, saying the “statements by Soyilu respond to those who still had the slightest doubt that the events in Evros were an aggressive plan to brutally blackmail Greece and Europe with a ‘weapon’ of migrant exploitation”.
The Turkish claims also come after the European Union has accused Greece of engaging in so-called “pushbacks” against migrants in the Aegean Sea.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) called on the European Union to investigate allegations of pushbacks earlier this year after citing information provided by pro-migration non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
An EU inquiry into the role of the EU’s border agency Frontex found that the agency had not been directly involved in any of the pushback incidents reported.