Category: Pushback and Human Rights Violations
Number of people: 39 (4 women, 5 children)
On 31 August 2020, Alarm Phone is contacted by a boat with 41 travellers, including 2 pregnant women and three children, all from Africa. They get attacked two times at the border between Turkey and Simi, and Turkey and Rhodos. According to a survivor, in the second attack, heavy violence is used, also against a pregnant woman.
The people were panicking on the phone and are urgently asking for help - we immediately call the Coast Guard of Simi and Rhodos. The officer on the phone in Rhodos confirms that they know about the boat and its position. However, they refuse to rescue the people in distress.
We inform the responsible authorities with an updated position and reiterate that the people in distress are urgently calling for immediate rescue. In the meantime, the situation on board seems to deteriorate. The people report that the Hellenic Coast Guard cut their engine and told them "fuck you and go back". Water is entering the boat and they ask us to call the Turkish Coast Guard.
The Turkish Coast Guard announced a Search and Rescue operation. In the meantime, the people on the boat sent us a video showing a boat, presumably of the Hellenic Coast Guard, that points spotlight on them.

A boat, reportedly belongs to the Hellenic Coast Guard, points light at the people in distress.

The Turkish Coast Guard confirm the rescue and say no one is missing.
One of the survivors details the gruesome attack in the following testimonial:
It was the night from Sunday to Monday 30 to 31 August 2020. We tried to reach the island of Simi. On our boat we were 41 people, all from Africa. I cannot say exactly the number of women and men, but two of the women were pregnant. There were also 3 kids with us. We were driving between 1 and 2 hours and when we reached the borderline there was a huge ship of the coastguard. They were armed and they told us to stop. Our engine stopped then and could not be restarted. We asked them for help but they only shouted go back, go back!. And they started to create big waves to make our boat return backwards by itself. The engine anyway stopped and so they left us there and watched from a distance. We could then manage to restart the engine and went first backwards. Then we made a second try to reach Greece, we then went towards Rhodos. Not far from Rhodos we were intercepted again. This time there was a bigger boat. I think it was again a boat belonging to the Greek coastguard. It stopped in a distance, so I could not see it clearly. It was still dark. They sent a smaller boat towards us. On this boat there were men with masks and arms. They looked like ninjas, all black. They attacked us. Shouting all the time at us. They had a stick and with this stick they sabotaged the engine. They held a light on us all the time, that’s why on the videos I made, it is difficult to see something. Another friend also made a video, but they saw that he made it and they slapped him and took the phone and broke it and threw it in the sea. They don’t want us to prove their violence and to show it to the world. But another friend noted down the number they had on their boat: ΛΣ070. The masked men attacked us also with violence. They shouted all the time in English at us: “Fuck your babies”, “Fuck your mothers”, “Shut up”, “Fuck you”. One of the pregnant women stood up, she wanted to show them that she is pregnant. She hoped for mercy. She was shouting louder than all the men to be seen and because she was in panic. But they just pushed her hard and she fell down. We were all afraid she will lose the baby. Fortunately, when she went to the hospital later in Turkey, we found out that the baby in her belly is still alive. In this attack our boat also got pierced. They again made waves and everyone was crying and panicking. They left us in the open sea for several hours. Finally, I managed to call 112 and we reached the Turkish side. They gave us a WhatsApp-number to send them our location. This was at 6:40h local time. After this it did not take too long and they rescued us back to Turkey. It was a bit later then 7:00h when they came and rescued us. Life in Turkey is not easy. We cannot survive here and we face also discrimination. But the Turkish coastguard treated us in a humane way. Before they brought us to the police they checked first who needs a doctor and they treated the pregnant women with care.