IPA-Evros A family trying to seek asylum in Greece has been pushed back into Turkey by masked and armed men dressed in camo.
H. Gul, S. Gul, and their three kids entered Greece but were denied entry on Monday.
According to witnesses who spoke to IPA News on condition of anonymity, at 5:30 am local time, a group of eight Turkish asylum seekers entered Greece via a boat through the Evros River. H. and S. Gul along with their three children were among them.
After arriving in Greece, the group headed towards the border village of Thourio and Greek police detained the group around 9:40 am local time.
According to the witnesses, police detained the Gul family, failing to notice the other three Turkish asylum seekers on the next table.
From that moment onwards their relatives lost communication with the Gul family altogether. The first word came from the provincial Gendermarie station of the Turkish border city of Edirne. An officer informed the family members that H. and S. Gul were in custody and instructed the other family members to collect the kids.
Men with balaclavas pushed them back to Turkey
According to information taken from the relatives who spoke with H. Gul and his 16-year-old child, Greek police took the family into custody in the Thourio village and drove them to the police station with a box van. The family wanted to apply for asylum here. At the station, there were 48 people from different nationalities, such as Afghans, Pakistanis, and Syrians.
There were also two more Turkish asylum seekers. After 10 hours of detention, the police told the Gul family they were to be taken to another police station. Here, armed men dressed in camo and wearing balaclavas, filled the 55 people in the police station into the bed of a military truck. After moving for a while, the truck stopped near Evros.
Armed men pushed the 55 people back into Turkey via boats at gunpoint.
Despite declaring they were asylum seekers from Turkey seeking political asylum in Greece, armed men forcefully pushed the Gul family back to Turkey.
After sending the group back, armed men ran sirens and put a light on the group. The Turkish gendarmerie arrived soon afterward and detained the group.
Court ordered the arrest of Gul Family
H. Gul and S. Gul were mathematics teachers who had arrest warrants in their names over being teachers at Gulen-linked schools.
Turkey outlawed the Gulen Movement some years ago and accuses Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Muslim cleric who leads the organization, of masterminding the failed 2016 coup which the latter denies.
Turkish gendarmerie forces released the Afghan and Syrian asylum seekers in the group and arrested H. and S. Gul.
A surge in push-back reports
In the last three days, reports indicate a surge in the push-back incidents at the Greek-Turkish border. Until the present day, Turkish asylum seekers were not systematically the target of push-backs, for they were directly escaping the Erdogan administration, unlike other asylum seekers.
However, the last three days saw reports that include push-back incidents involving Turkish nationals.
A group of 11 Turkish asylum seekers who were beaten and pushed back to Turkey by masked and armed men on Friday, had crossed over to Greece again on the next day.
With the help of refugee organizations, the Greek police took the group and their asylum processes were started. That group is now being held in the border station of Soufli. A journalist, Tugba Ozkan, is reportedly among the group who were assaulted and the push back. She is 28 weeks pregnant.
*Reported by Zubeyir Koculu