On September 2, 2021 a Syrian man died on an islet in Evros after being violently pushed back instead of being transported to a hospital for treatment. His name was Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri. He was 30 years old when he died and left behind his wife and two children.
In 2021, we published the following extensive report about the incident. In summary, the Alarm Phone alerted the Greek authorities on August 30, 2021 of a man in urgent need of medical attention approximately 50 km away from the Greek-Turkish border. Three days had passed when on September 2, the Alarm Phone received an alert regarding a lifeless body on an islet located within the Evros river. The Alarm Phone had received pictures of the person in both instances and can confirm that it was the same person. Despite being in dire need of medical assistance and approximately 50 kilometers away from the border, he was violently returned to the border by Greek border guards which led to his death. Those responsible for this killing must be held accountable!
Justice remains elusive for him, and many others. Since then, many more people died at this cruel border separating Turkey from Europe. These deaths are connected to violent pushbacks, mistreatment or the denial of medical care by Greek authorities.
They all had a life, their stories and their dreams. They all have friends and family who remember, miss and mourn them every day. They will never be forgotten! Bakri Al-Bakri, Alaa’s borther, thinks about his brother every single day since September 2, 2021.
We kept in touch with Bakri, and tried to organize legal aid in order to initiate proceedings against the Greek authorities who pushed him back onto a small islet within the Evros river, where Muhammad died, instead of bringing him to the hospital when he was so sick that he couldn’t speak or move and was barely breathing. Realizing that there was not enough hard evidence to prove what happened, Bakri and the lawyer decided against filing a lawsuit. The case has been accurately described, the actions of the border guards fit many other reports of pushbacks, ill-treatment and killings, but all this is not enough. Often, this is yet another slap in the face for relatives who long for justice.
We spoke to Bakri again at the beginning of February 2023. We cannot undo the injustice done to his brother. No, there won’t be any consequences nor justice even. But what we can do is to listen to him:
“More than a year ago, my brother left to Greece with the intention of working and making a living. On the way, while at the forest, he was injured and his friends abandoned him though they had agreed to stick together no matter what happens. He was alone in the forest for four days. He was asking for help to no avail, until a group of people found him there. He was exhausted, and they gave him food and took him to an asphalted road so the Greek police could find him and get him medical help. When the Greek police found him, they took him to prison and didn’t give him the medical attention he needed. It is as if what had already happened to him wasn’t enough, they tortured him and stole his stuff and abandoned him close to the Evros river without any mercy. It was cold. He endured a lot before he died. Some people who crossed the river found him there, dead. They took him to the hospital in Edirne, Türkiye, where he was buried later on. To start a legal investigation, the Greek authorities asked for witnesses from the people who were with him. But they know that the witnesses cannot enter Greece because they don’t have the needed documents. I want to hold the Greek Police responsible for what happened to my brother. I live in Syria and I cannot travel to Greece because of my documents and the high financial cost. Edirne hospital refused to even give me the autopsy report without being there, though they know I cannot travel. I have evidence and witnesses but I cannot do much with that. I call on all the good people, on the judiciary system, on human rights organisations, to help me get justice for my brother.”
Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri, you are alive in our memory.
We will remember you. You will never be forgotten.
Say his name: Alaa Muhammad Al-Bakri