The Greek Forum of Refugees is a multinational network. The founder members are Afghan Community in Greece, Sudanese Refugees League in Greece, Somali Community in Greece and the Greek Forum of Migrants.
Το Ελληνικό Φορουμ Προσφύγων είναι πολυεθνικό Δίκτυο οργανώσεων προσφύγων. Ιδρυτικά μέλη του είναι: η Κοινότητα Αφγανών στην Ελλάδα (AMRCG), ο Σύνδεσμος Σουδανών Προσφύγων στην Ελλάδα (SRLG), η Κοινότητα Σομαλίας στην Ελλάδα (SCG) και το Ελληνικό Φόρουμ Μεταναστών (GFM).
Reports from press conference by survivors of Farmakonisi
On 25 January, during the press
conference held by organizations and movements for human rights,
people including refugees and migrant communities, women - children and various
reporters participated and listened carefully to speakers who were among the survivors
of the incident on 20January in Farmakonisi.
Mr. Safi Ehsanullah, one the survivors who has lost his wife
and 4 children, said:
“There were 26 of us, 23 Afghans and three Syrians in a boat
that sailed from Turkey at approximately 10:00 or 10:30 at night. After almost
2 hours we were close to the Greek shore when the engine of our boat got out of
order. We were not so far and if there was no help, we planned to make a human
chain from the boat to the shore in order to reach the land. Suddenly the Greek
coast guard appeared and from the first moment they started shouting on us not
to move and talk. We were glad, as we thought that they would save us. Two of
them got inside our boat and tied our boat to their own. But unexpectedly they
turned back and were pulling us back to Turkey with zigzag and very high speed.
Suddenly the part of the ship to which the Greek coastal guard’s ship was tied,
broke off from the ship carrying the refugees, causing great damage to the boat
and thus allowing water to flood the boat. The boat was old and frail, and
began to sink. The guard gave the order to tie the boat again and to start
pulling again, but the boat was full of water so they cut the robe and tried to
escape. Refugees’ belongings, bags, etc. stuck to the coast boat engine and it
emit smoke and there was a panic among the coast
guard. They tried to extinguish the fire and it was by chance that the refugees
who were still on the water could hang to coast guard ship but the guards preventing
refugees to get in their boat kicking and shouting on them. One of survivors from Syria, tried saving a
woman by extending her a stick from the safety of the coastal guard boat, but
was brutally prevented by a member of the coastal guard, who beat the man
assisting the woman”.
Answering the reporters’ question, “why did they signed at the
port a document saying that the coastal guard saved them and why they didn’t
complained and didn’t report this at Leros Island?
-Safi said: “first there was no translator in our language.
There was one from Pakistan that just three of us could understand a little bit. The translator
couldn’t read and they wrote what they wanted and they asked us to sign without
reading or understanding it. We thought that we were signing for clothes that
we received upon arrival. We never signed anything like what we are hearing now
from the media”.
There were interventions from representatives of
organizations and movements expressing their solidarity with the survivors,
migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They condemned the Greek and European
policy at the border not saving the lives of migrants and refugees.
The president of Greek Forum of Refugees, Mr. Yonous
Muhammadi - said:
“This incident is not individual. Just last year tens of
victims have been registered officially, but we know there are many victims never
recorded. We have very usual complaints of push backs and violence at sea or
land borders. There has never been an answer to or investigation of these
serious complaints, although Greece has been convicted many times by the European
court of Human Rights concerning the rights of migrants and refugees crossing
Greek borders. We have many cases in which the boats of migrants and asylum
seekers have been pushed back close to Turkish shore and have been destroyed in
the water, putting in danger the life of people on board. We have many complaints
of humiliation and tortures of asylum seekers crossing borders.
First it is imperative for us to grant the
wish of the survivors, which is that their relatives, trapped inside the hull
of the ship, be brought to land. Second we ask the EU and the Greek
authorities to investigate this case seriously and take serious decisions to
prevent more victims in Aegean”.
The press conference was followed by a large protest march
to the Omonia police station. This was in protest at the fact that, since 24
January the survivors, who are accommodated in a hostel, have been arrested
three times and brought to this police station.
Related links: The Greek Coast Guard “drowned” the Asylum seekers in Farmakonisi