Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 8
In the morning of 30 of August 2021, Alarm Phone is informed about a group of people that are near Arianna in Greece. We are told, that there are four people in a valley in the forest. One man is sick and can not walk and feels close to death.
We immediately send an email to all Greek authorities plus UNHCR, Ombudsman and several others, informing that the group needs urgent help and wants to seek asylum in Greece. We didn’t receive a phone number from the group, so we are not able to establish direct contact.
Some days later, we are alerted about another group in distress on a small islet in Evros river between Turkey and Greece. The group consists of 5 Syrians and 3 Afghans. Some of them have been stranded there for 5 days and one women is in critical health condition. They tell us, that there is a dead person within the group. It is a middle-aged man from Syria.
We inform the responsible authorities.
The people on the island inform us, that help finally arrived.
Afterwards, it becomes clear that there is a connection between these two cases. The sick person of the first group near Arianna is the same person that has been reported dead on the islet some days later. Alarm Phone starts to investigate on what exactly happened. We find out that the group on the islet was finally rescued and the body of the dead was transferred to Edirne, where he was identified with the help of a family member on 8th of September and buried in Edirne the next day.
Through the contact with a family member of the dead person, we are able to confirm, that he belonged to the group that alarmed us on the 30th of August.
We publish a report about the case, including the following testimony of the brother of the deceised, Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri. The brother reports the following:
When he had crossed the border on the 25th of August, he sent us a selfie, “all good, we crossed” he said. Then after two days we lost contact with him, and then for four days we couldn't contact him. On the 30th there was a group of three people, that were crossing the forest that found him, he was alive, but he was sick. They asked him, what has happened to you? And he explained that his group had left him behind without food and water, because he was too sick to walk. This group stays with him, gave him food and water, try to contacts all NGOs for help, they were also Syrians, but didn't belong to his original group. Then when there was no help coming, they turned themselves in to the police with him. They carried him, and they walked for hours to the main road, and there was police there, that they stopped, and they took them to police station. His situation wasn't super bad at this point, he was sick, but he was ok, after they gave him water and food, and they were arrested for one day in Greece. After they were in the jail for one day, the next day, the 31st August in the night, they took three Pakistani, and the three Syrians that found him and Alaa and they pushed back the 7 of them to the island. From this island, they tried to contact the Turkish Gendarma, to let them go back to Turkey, but the Turks were refusing that and they were swearing on them, and they were showing their gun, trying to force them not to come back. Then the Syrians tried to swim, but he was sick so he could not swim, and the Pakistani were beaten so bad by the police, that they couldn't swim also, so the Syrians went back to Turkey swimming and the others stayed. One day later, the 1st September in the morning another group came to the island, a group of 5 Syrians, they were pushed back there also. They found the person dead or dying, they contacted again NGOs and organisations, they took video, and sent it, they called 112, and finally the Turkish took them, the group and also the dead body.
Was the death of Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri inevitable? No. We believe his death to be a result of the violent border regime and push-back practices. If everybody was free to move, without being criminalized, he would not have had to wander through a forest for days in autumn. If everybody’s dignity was respected, he would have received medical assistance. His death was not an accident. He did not die because of a severe illness that could not be treated. Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri’s death was another deadly consequence of the European border regime.