The non-governmental organization “Aegean Boat Report” revealed that the Greek authorities held about 14 Arab refugees in a camp on the Greek island of Kos after they appeared in a video last month in which they were talking about being beaten while their hands were tied and their eyes blindfolded, which caused a great uproar at the time.
The Norwegian NGO said, “We have waited too long to reveal the truth about this case in an attempt to protect the victims, and now is the time to set the record straight, to explain why we did what we did.”
The NGO said on its website on Sunday, July 30, that the Greek authorities were apparently on their way to deport the Arab refugees to Turkey, but after the video was posted, the Greek authorities first kept the group inside a truck, then transported them to a secret location in Kos for hours until they decided how to deal with the situation.
The NGO added, the refugees were taken to the camp at night, in the cover of darkness, so that fewer witnesses could see them, in order to avoid them being recognized by those who saw the video that was posted earlier, noting that the group was also isolated in a closed area in the camp, apart from the residents, in an atmosphere of extreme caution and secrecy.
The NGO explained that the people registered from the truck that day were mainly Palestinians from Lebanon, as well as a Syrian family, a man, his wife and their son, and the boy in the video wearing a Spiderman shirt.
It added, that while 14 people were transferred to the camp, only 13 people were registered in the official register, as the Syrian father was separated from his family, and the reason is unclear, but it is possible that he was arrested on charges of smuggling.
The NGO draws attention to the fact that it is common practice by the Greek authorities that the police arrests at least one person from each boat and accuses him of smuggling, because someone must have been steering the boat towards the land.
There are more than 2,000 people in Greek prisons facing harsh sentences on suspicion of being smugglers sailing boats carrying passengers across the Greek border.
According to the organization, members of the group fear what will happen to them if they talk about what they have been subjected to, given that they are held by the same authorities responsible for such inhumane treatment.
On June 26, the organization published a video clip from the island of Kos, showing 14 people trapped and gagged in the back of a truck.
The video went viral immediately after it was posted. More than 500,000 people watched it on Twitter on the first day, and it drew a lot of attention, and caused an uproar for the mayor of Kos, Theodosis Nikitaras.
The organization points out that while the mayor of Kos did everything within his power to try to discredit the organization that released this horrific video, he did absolutely nothing with regard to investigating such criminal acts.
The NGO stated that it will continue to follow the situation of people on the move in the Aegean Sea, and to document and expose those who try to violate the rights of others, stressing that “we will not be silenced.”
Organizations and associations have documented and continue to document the illegal push back practices of the Greek authorities. Greece has prevented the entry of more than 150 irregular migrants to its territory in 2022.