"The Hellenic Coast Guard threatened us that they will deflate our boat in case we don't return to Turkey"

The location of the drifting boat that the Alarm Phone received.

Two months after the Pylos shipwreck, several videos from rescues in the Greek area of responsibility can be observed on the X (formerly known as Twitter) account of the Hellenic Coast Guard. As well, Greek media outlets, funded by the government of Nea Dimokratia, are dutifully reporting on these operations. When the Adriana sank however, the Coast Guard claims that the cameras were not in operation. According to Solomon, a spokesperson of the Hellenic Coast Guard justified why the incident was not recorded on video by stating on Greek television:

“When we have an incident, we try to have the ability to operate seamlessly. Making some crew members ‘inactive’ so that they can record a video, you understand, is unethical.”

What was conveniently deemed “unethical” then, appears to be very ethical now. Recording devices on coast guard assets are functioning and crew members are indeed rendered “inactive” in order to document footage from rescues at sea. In their usual fashion, the Hellenic Coast Guard continue to contradict themselves, distorting reality according to their interest, and going into great lengths to cultivate the impression that they are performing their duty in their area of responsibility. However, this cannot be further from the truth!

In the early morning hours of August 4th, 2023, a relative informed us that 58 people from Afghanistan were drifting at sea northeast of Chios island, after the Hellenic Coast Guard removed the boat’s engine. We tried to reach the people in distress directly but it was not possible to reach them. Shortly after, the same relative informed us that Turkish authorities reached the people and brought them back to Türkiye.

One of the people on board later shared the following account of the events that night:

“At night we were at the beach and they told us the trip will start now and we drove for about half an hour until we reached Greek waters and then the Hellenic Coast Guard came and approached us, stole our motor and the fuel. We had kids and women, several elderly women on board and we begged the Hellenic Coast Guard not to attack us but in the opposite they threatened us that they will deflate our boat in case we don’t return to Turkey. So the only thing what we could do was to return with paddling with hands in the water. We reached Turkish waters and then the Turkish Coast Guard came and picked us up.”

This account from the survivor illustrates that people on the move are still facing the same deadly pushback regime. Despite the fact that the Greek state tries to convince the public opinion otherwise, the people themselves challenge their lies by sharing their stories. Through this they make it clear that with each passing day more lives are endangered due to Fortress Europe’s violent practices at its’ borders. People on the move continue struggling for freedom of movement. And so will Alarm Phone.