In the dark zone of a sea at war, where military operations, often unannounced, take place, there was an illegal refoulement of migrants to Turkey, witnessed by seaborne rescuers with Watch The Med, a group that for more than two years has monitored the length and breadth of the Aegean Sea to provide relief to rafts in distress.
It happened June 11: A boat with 39 adults and 14 children, refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq, was approached by the Greek coast guard near Chios. After the first rescue, the soldiers pointed their guns to the heads of migrants, who were then handed over to Turkish authorities who returned them to the port of Cesme, Turkey. The GPS data shows that the boat of refugees had reached Greek waters, thus confirming what the Watch The Med sailors witnessed.
Here are the facts as we know them. At 3:59 a.m. on June 11, the first SOS call was received on the Watch The Med hotline: “We are 53 refugees, including 14 young children and three elderly people, on a raft in distress.” At 4:05 a.m., the refugees called the so-called “Alarm Phone” and advised they were being followed by the Turkish coast guard. At 4:41 a.m., another call, the migrants informed they escaped the Turkish coast guard.