BBC reported on June 5 that police in Greece have been violently turning away boats of refugees. Many of these Muslim refugees are originally from Syria and fled to Turkey to escape the violence in their home country. There is no excuse, no reason what-so-ever for the treatment these refugees have faced on the shores of Greece.
In Sidiro, a Muslim community in southern Greece, there are 400 graves of Muslim refugees who have washed up to shore. The son of the local iman spoke with BBC about their fellow Muslims trying to find safety in the Europe Union.
“Everything we would do for our families and our fathers, we do the same thing for these people. We bury them in the Islamic way,” says Ekrem Serif-Oamadoglou, as he points to 400 freshly dug graves clustered on the remote hillside.”
The deaths of 400 refugees trying to cross the trecherous waters of the Evros River is tragic but it does not necessarily mean Greece is at fault. But there are other refugees who survived their journey, and their story shows just what the police force of Greece have done to these people.
“We were put into a rubber boat. I didn’t know where my children were, or my husband. I was about to fall into the water, I grabbed the policeman’s hand, but he knocked me away,” (Salwa al-Rajo) says.
“There was another woman who lost her glasses. She said, ‘I can’t get in to the boat, I can’t see.’ The policeman started to beat her up. Her son said, ‘Why are you beating my mum? She’s an old woman.’ The policeman got his gun and put it to his head and said, ‘Shut up!’ And so they got us in to the boat and pushed us in to the water.”
The Greek authorities have claimed they have not undertaken a “push back” policy, but Amnesty International has 40 different cases they are investigating where boats filled with refugees have been pushed back to Turkey in the middle of the night.
They actions of the Greek government and populouls once refugees actually reach the country is also appalling.
More than 9,000 Syrians have been arrested and detained in the country over the last two years, and only two out of the hundreds of Syrians who have applied for asylum have been given it – an approval rate of less than 1%, compared with the 90% rate for Syrians applying elsewhere in Europe.
There is no excuse for these actions. Even asylum seekers in Austrailia face better treatment than Syrian refugees coming into Greece.
People have died because of the actions of the Greek government. No matter a country’s economic situation, they need to respect not only their own citizens, but citizens of other countries as well. Countries around the world declared that they would give assistance to Syrians dealing with the violence happening in their homeland. Obviously Greece has decided to not be one of those nations.