An organized group of residents from the Greek island of Samos blasted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over his claims that migrant pushbacks have not been taking place.
The Samos Open Assembly, a group of residents on the Greek island of Samos, wrote in an open letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that there have been at least three incidents where there was a "violent repatriation of refugees who had landed on the shores of the island."
The group is also taking issue with a recent comment by Mitsotakis that "thousands of rescues" have taken place.
Data from the Greek Coast Guard showed minimal such rescue activity since March 2020, when the government's policy of "systematic repatriations" began.
Open letter details pushbacks
In their letter, the Samos Open Assembly cited several episodes. It said on April 1, 2020 a boat with migrants arrived at Mourtia beach, which was documented by journalists, but then a day later, the migrants were seen in inflatable rescue boats without engines, dangerously abandoned in Turkish waters.
It also said the same thing happened days later to a group of migrants who arrived in the village of Kallithea.
It also recounted an episode of "bullying by some hooded men of the security forces and the violent abduction of people who had just arrived at Psili Ammos beach" in Marathokampos in April 2021.
In that case as well, they said the migrants were "put in a lifeboat without a motor, in Turkish waters", and that this was documented by journalists.
Greek PM 'denying deportations'
"You may turn a blind eye to your far right by not denying deportations and the other to a furious Europe that would like to fully legitimize the crackdowns, but the country you rule has surrendered to neither the far right, nor the fear, nor the hatred," the Samos Open Assembly wrote in its open letter.
"Since no journalist has asked you since March 2020, we as residents of Samos would like to ask: How can we have such low numbers of officially recorded arrivals of immigrants in Samos, when we who live here have witnessed countless arrivals? How can you talk about hundreds or even thousands of daily rescues and in Samos that for a year-and-a-half now there has not been a single recording of a rescue at the port? What actions are taken for all the boats with migrants that have been located in Greek territorial waters? Can you confirm that the arrivals have been taken to a safe place to be recorded? Why does this not appear in the official records? What actions are taken for all the boats with immigrants that have arrived on a Greek island? Have they been officially recorded and if so why do they not appear in the relevant reports?"
In the open letter, dated 12 November 2021, the Samos Open Assembly said, "Although the views of those in power are very important -- we also have interesting experiences from Samos -- without the slightest sense of self-control or dignity from the dominant and systemic media for two years, we will not dwell on it at this time. People are in danger, people are lost, they are drowning in Samos and we have to put an end to that".