More than 500 refugees detained on Chios fled their camp – see video below – and headed for a boat for Piraeus. Most of the refugees who escaped ended up at the harbour (see photo above) and ignored requests from police to head for another camp at Souda. Their intention is to remain at the harbour until they can board a boat for the mainland. Around 200 local residents organised a demonstration in support of the refugees. (Also, according to UNHCR other refugees – 21 Syrians, Iraqis and Somalians – have begun to sail from mainland Greece to Italy and that more sailings are planned.)
Meanwhile a document has emerged that shows how Turkish Armed Forces is aware of forthcoming terror attacks – this time on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul – but who have not disclosed details of the specific targets – all named in the doc – to the public or to the media. The document – see image below – is dated 29 March (only days before the European Union will be returning thousands of refugees to Turkey, which it designates a ‘safe country’) and was signed off on Thursday. Today, too, Amnesty International published a damning report that shows that Turkey is already returning refugees to war zones: by returning refugees to Turkey, the EU is therefore guilty – colluding – in a war crime.
The document shown above is no one-off: two weeks ago we published a similar report from Turkish Intelligence that showed they were well aware – in fact, 10 days in advance – that terror attacks had been planned for Ankara, but did not warn the public. The US embassy in Ankara passed on a similar warning two days before the bombing (based either on their own intelligence or intelligence passed to them by the Turkish authorities). This combined intelligence came at a very sensitive time – namely, in the days leading up to the now notorious agreement with the EU that sees Turkey getting up to 6 billion euros, its citizens roaming rights across Europe and promises of EU membership.
Also, last month we published details of what we dubbed the EU-Turkey refugee pipeline which listed several EU-funded detention centres in Turkey that Amnesty International alleged were being used as staging posts for the return of refugees to war zones. AI also produced evidence of beatings and torture at these centres.
The latest AI report updates those findings with additional proof that hundreds of refugees are now being transported across borders into Syria and ISIS-controlled areas. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, said “It seems highly likely that Turkey has returned several thousand refugees to Syria in the last seven to nine weeks. If the agreement proceeds as planned, there is a very real risk that some of those the EU sends back to Turkey will suffer the same fate.”
A report from Oxford University provides additional evidence that abuse of refugees has been taking place at the refugee detention centre at Askale―a small remote town in the east of Turkey. Local lawyers have reported unlawful practices of staff working in the centre, such as access to clients being arbitrarily blocked, clients’ asylum applications being denied without proper examination, minors being kept in isolated cells without access to family members, and possible cases of ill treatment and torture. This has been going on for at least four months. On 28 December last year migrants in Askale protested at the conditions of the centre as well as the illegal deportations. In response, roads to the centre were blocked by police, members of the media and lawyers were forced to leave the area, and riot police entered the centre. Many migrants were beaten during the police intervention and taken to the hospital. On the first day of 2016, 11 national NGOs, including Amnesty International, Multeci-Der, and the Turkish Human Rights Association released a public statement summarising the above mentioned accusations and protesting the unlawful treatment of migrants in Askale.
Other reports, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and published by MSM only yesterday, appear to provide evidence that Turkey has been shooting refugees – including children – trying to cross the border from Syria into Turkey. Interestingly, AI confirmed these reports: “Over the last few months, Turkey has introduced visa requirements for Syrians arriving by air, sealed its land border with Syria for all but those in need of emergency medical care, and shot at some of those attempting to cross it irregularly,” said John Dalhuisen.
That the EU appears to ignore these reports means that it is liable to accusations of collusion with Turkey and that it may even be guilty of a war crime.
Seven human rights organisations have denounced the EU-Turkey Deal.