This is the number of refugees that have been illegally pushed back while trying to cross the Aegean Sea since March 2020. Mare Liberum collected information on 266 pushbacks, but the actual number is most likely much higher.
This is because gathering information is difficult in a highly militarized borderzone where no civilian witness is present and facts are politically instrumentalized.
Additionally there is the fear of repression and criminalization by the Greek authorities: Refugees who have given public testimonies or interviews about the crimes of the Hellenic Coast Guard have been arrested or harrased, which is why most choose not to speak about their violent expierences during pushbacks. The Hellinic Coast Guard also uses exessive brutality against the people on the boats and are incresingly thorough to take away all phones to prevent information from getting out and potentially being used for criminal procecution.
A few days ago a dinghy washed up on the south coast of Lesvos. The thin layer of the rubber boat was cut open in several places – a common practice to sink the boats. On the inside: 5 inner tubes that were used instead of life jackets and some personal belongings including soaked papers and a pink shoe for a baby - probably younger than 12 months. Sometimes it is possible to link those deflated rubber boats to a pushback to Turkey, but most of the time it is not and one can only hope that the people in the boat did not drown. We have talked to families that have been looking for their missing loved ones who had set out to cross the Aegean Sea for weeks and months without receiving any information from the authorities.
Die Ägäis ist ein Schauplatz täglicher Menschenrechtsverbechen geworden und eine Black Box für Informationen dazu. Dennoch wurden Pushbacks per Videos, Zeugenaussagen und forensischen Beweisen belegt und trotzdem schafft es die Europäische Union nicht, die Durchführung von Pushbacks auf beinahe industrieller Ebene zu verurteilen und zu beenden – tatsächlich unterstützt sie sogar dieses System der Abschottung und die Professionalisierung dieser illegalen Machenschaften.