Amnesty slams Greece for pushbacks

Greek police and coast guard officers are systematically ill-treating would-be refugees from Syria, according to an Amnesty International report published on Friday which documents firsthand accounts of pushbacks after violent beatings and confiscations of personal belongings without any due process.

The report by the human rights watchdog, titled “An International Failure: The Syrian Refugee Crisis,” quotes a 32-year-old Syrian man describing how he and his mother, part of a group of 35 people, were pushed back to Turkey by the Greek coast guard on October 6.

“They put all the men lying on the boat; they stepped on us and hit us with their weapons for three hours. Then at around 10 in the morning, after removing the motor, they put us back to our plastic boat and towed us back to the Turkish waters and left us in the middle of the sea,” he says.

The report notes that tightening security along the border with Turkey in Evros, northern Greece, is pushing refugees to try increasingly risky routes across the Aegean.

Since August 2012, at least 130 refugees, mostly Syrian and Afghan, died in at least 11 known incidents while trying to reach Greece by boat from Turkey, Amnesty said.

More than 2.3 million refugees have fled war-torn Syria, the organization said, urging EU governments to increase the number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places as well as to strengthen search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean with full respect for the human rights of those rescued.

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