Ankara steps up unfounded pushback allegations

Ankara steps up unfounded pushback allegations

Ankara has taken its allegations of human rights violations by Greece to the United Nations, accusing it of pushbacks and refugee and migrant deaths in the Aegean. 

The Turkish allegations are included in the letter sent by the permanent representative of Turkey to the United Nations, Feridun Sinirlioglu, to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on February 16.

Greece, which has dismissed the claims as baseless and nonexistent, is expected to respond in the coming days, with its own letter to the United Nations secretary-general.

Sinirlioglu said in his letter last week that for more than a decade, Greece has been endangering the lives of refugees and migrants in the Aegean Sea and along the land border with Turkey with increasing frequency and ferocity.

He argued that Greece is pushing back refugees and migrants, including women and children, who are stacked on simple boats or rafts. The Turkish official said the boats are violently intercepted by the Hellenic Coast Guard and then abandoned to drift in the open sea, resulting in the loss of life and serious injuries.

He further accused Greek officials of humiliating and aggressive physical searches as well as ill-treatment that in some cases amounts to torture, as defined by Amnesty International.

According to Sinirlioglou, Greece has made a total of 16,500 pushbacks, claiming that in January alone this number reached 1,250.

His letter also includes reference to the recent allegations made by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu about the death of 11 migrants from the cold near the border crossing at Ipsala. These claims were also dismissed by Athens as nonexistent.

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