On Saturday November 28th 2020, a boat with 18 passengers reached Agrilia Kratigou on Lesvos. On Tuesday December 1st at 2 pm a boat with 32 passengers reached the shore. On Wednesday December 2nd, a boat with 35 passengers, on Thursday December 3rd, four boats with a total of 85 passengers, on Saturay December 5th, a boat with 40 passengers and on Tuesday December 8th a boat with 23 passengers reached the shore.
I’ve been following the news about pushbacks of migrant boats by the Greek coastguard since the 29th of November on various websites, and what strikes me every time is that the Greek government denies this tragedy and states that it has «fallen victim to a disinformation campaign». It points out that the Greek coastguard operates with total respect for human dignity, and in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
But I do still wonder exactly how human dignity has been respected. Does respecting “Human Dignity” mean that when the police track down the 18 passengers of a boat that reached the shore of Agrilia Kratigou on November 28th at 10 pm, they should take away their mobile phones and other personal items, insult them verbally and attack them physically (according to the testimonies of the passengers themselves), and then proceed to put them back on the boat and send them back to Turkey?
Does the Greek coastguard disconnecting the fuel pump from a boat show respect for «human dignity»?
Does the coastguard ignoring a request for rescue and refusing to help, show respect for «human dignity»? As does finding someone and sending them back, even though there is a danger that that person might die?
Every day refugees reach the Greek shore and then try to hide into the woods. Where are the human rights that you are so proud of respecting? These people include children, so where are the rights of children that you were celebrating a few days ago?
These people include women, so where are the women’s rights which you dedicated one whole day to? The passengers of these boats are human beings. Men, women and children. Even if they were animals they would still have rights. I know that even animals have rights in Europe.
Greece is suffering from the spread of coronavirus. When refugees reach the islands, they wait for sunrise and then reveal themselves to locals, so that rescue forces can come to their aid and prevent them from being pushed back to Turkey. But this is disastrous, because the possibility of spreading coronavirus during all this moving around is huge and endangers not only the refugees themselves, but also the locals. Refugees should be put straight into quarantine on arrival. I also wonder whether the employees of the UNHCR are going to work right now, or are they isolating at home and simply issuing statements. Will the crimes against humanity committed on Greek shores be investigated? Will we ever see the obvious violations of human rights that are going on there?
How can contempt for the lives of those who were forced to abandon their homeland become an argument in favour of sending them back, for literally throwing them into a stormy sea. And all this in the birthplace of civilization, history and the great philosophers, all things that Greeks are proud of. In a country of the European Union, whose motto is “equal rights for all”.