Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece, on March 29, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis
Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece, on March 29, 2021 | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis

Amnesty International has launched a petition, demanding the Greek government end its alleged pushbacks of refugees and migrants. The organization recently released a report, accusing Greek authorities of illegally returning potential asylum seekers to Turkey.

The human rights organization Amnesty International has published an open letter, encouraging people to sign and send it to the Greek government. The letter calls on Greece's leadership to end their alleged pushbacks of people to Turkey and to improve its treatment of migrants and refugees at the border.

"Greece must finally recognize the seriousness and extent of repatriation practices in the country and stop turning a blind eye to the losses, pain and costs that these practices have on human lives," said Amnesty in a media statement.

In the letter, Amnesty demands Greece investigate allegations of pushbacks and hold officials responsible. The organization writes: "The prevailing culture of impunity is the main lever of these violations. You can change this by ensuring that complaints are effectively investigated, that people in Greece have access to protection procedures, and that border control operations are conducted in a manner consistent with human rights law."

Reports of migrants, refugees forced to return to Turkey

This petition follows the release of a report by Amnesty International entitled 'Greece: violence, lies, and pushbacks' on June 22, which argued that "pushbacks and violence against refugees and migrants [at the Greek borders] are de facto border policy.

Several organizations -- including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch -- have published reports documenting what they see as pushbacks by Greek authorities; as have several media outlets, such as German news magazine Der Spiegel and British daily The Guardian. NGO Legal Centre Lesvos has also filed a lawsuit against Greece with the European court of human rights, after collecting testimonies from people allegedly pushed back.

However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis have denied these allegations of widespread pushbacks.

What are pushbacks?

Pushbacks occur when migrants or refugees are returned to another country -- pushed back across the border -- without being able to request asylum and without having their case examined.

This practice is illegal because it violates the right to asylum. In Greece, pushbacks can be considered particularly dangerous because the country shares an oceanic border with Turkey -- if boats are turned back in the Aegean Sea, migrants and refugees are in danger of drowning.


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