UPDATE 05 August 2022
Still the families are desperately searching for the two young men who went swimming to try to find help and went missing. We are publishing their pictures as the families asked us to help them in their search.
The greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton (Efsyn) has yesterday published about the case including their photos as well.
On 20 July we learned about two young men who went missing after a pushback near Rhodes that had happened already a week earlier. When we called Greek and Turkish coastguard to understand if there is a search for the two missing, we could not find anything helpful. A few days later we were contacted again by the relatives of one of the missing who were still desperately searching.
We came in contact with one of the survivors who shared with us what they experienced:
“I will tell you the story. We went from Bodrum to the Greek island of Rhodes to go to Europe. I am 17 years old and I have two friends, M. and G.. We arrived in Rhodes to a city called Soroni. There, the police arrested us. I recognized a badge written “Hellas” on their uniforms. I spoke with one of them in English and told him that I want to apply for asylum and that I am underage.
They took us to a church near the sea. I don’t know where the place is because the phones were confiscated. Then they trick us. They tell us to stay calm. We will take you to the camp. Then we waited until the evening and they handed us over to the coast guard, and then they threw us into the sea and we stayed for two days more.
We had no phones, no food, no water, nothing. On the third day in the sea, my friends swam to an unknown direction, only there is an island from a long distance, and then a Mexican ship helped us and called the Greek coast guard to take us back to Greece. Instead of helping us they only pushed us further towards Turkey. Finally, the Turkish coastguard rescued us.
They were trying to kill us. I told them I am underage and I want asylum here, but they were very bad and violent.”
The Turkish Coastguard reports about the rescue of the 15 people, on 15 July 2022 at 16:10 local time off the coast of Muğla’s Marmaris district. They state that the people were pushed back to Turkish territorial waters by Greek assets.
G.K., 23 years old and M.M. are missing as a consequence of the push-back.
The brother of one of the missing comments:
“All people should know what happens and that we are facing this violence by other human beings, just because we come from Syria. It is not our fault that war started in our country. We just want to live ,like all other human beings. Nobody wants to die waiting until someone comes to help. That’s why my brother started swimming.”
It is difficult to disagree with the 17-year-old survivor when he simply says: “They were trying to kill us.” What else does it mean to put people on a life raft, without any possibility to cover from the sun, without water and without a phone to call for help?