Greece Probes Boat Sinking Abuse Charges

Boats like this packed with migrants often try to land in Greece, and some don't make it
Boats like this packed with migrants often try to land in Greece, and some don’t make it

Merchant Marine Minister Militadis Varvitsiotis has denied accusations by migrants who survived the capsizing of a boat full of immigrants that it was being dragged back to Turkey at full speed, not to safety, and that Coast Guard officials let women and children drown and pushed some of them back into the water when they tried to get on board the Greek vessel.

The immigrant boat capsized off the island of Farmakonisi on Jan. 20. The bodies of a woman and a child aged around 5 were found near the Turkish coast, but another 10 people are still missing. Sixteen people were rescued and were transferred to Piraeus.

One of the survivors was reported as saying that members of the Coast Guard pushed people back into water as they tried to climb aboard. The report could not be independently verified.

The incident rompted criticism from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which quoted survivors as saying that several migrants fell off the boat as it was being towed, at high speed, toward the Turkish coast. The UNHCR has called for an inquiry into the circumstances of the tragedy.

Amnesty International also urged the Greek government to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances which led to deaths in the Aegean Sea.

“Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to initiate a thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the incident… bring to light the circumstances which led to loss of life and prosecute those who are responsible,” the organization said in a statement on its website.

It is not at all true that the vessel was being towed at high speed toward Turkey,” Varvitsiotis said. “That is clear from the vessels’ coordinates, which we have at our disposal and that anyone who wants can see.”

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, said he was “shocked and distressed” and called on Greek authorities to “put an end to the illegal practice of collective expulsions and effectively investigate all such cases.”

Speaking to SKAI TV, Varvitsiotis said panicking migrants caused the boat to capsize themselves. “Muiznieks and several others want to create a political issue in Greece,” he said.

“Such issues should not become the subject of petty (political) exploitation,” said Varvitsiotis adding that neither the PASOK Socialists who are the coalition partner in the government led by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras nor the major opposition SYRIZA party have so far asked to be briefed on the incident.

“No one really wants to open up the gates and grant asylum to every immigrant in this country,” said Varvitisotis adding that Greek Coast Guard officials have so far rescued 3,500 people at sea.

According to a press release published on the Council of Europe website January 14, the commissioner in December sent a letter to Varvitsiotis as well as Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias urging Greece “to radically change its migration policy and practice.”

“The large number of reported collective expulsions by Greece of migrants, including a large number of Syrians fleeing war violence, and allegations of ill-treatment of migrants by members of the coast guard and of the border police raise serious human rights concerns,” Muiznieks wrote.

According to an Amnesty International report published in December, Greek police and coast guard officers are systematically ill-treating would-be refugees from Syria. The report documented firsthand accounts of pushbacks after violent beatings and confiscations of personal belongings without any due process.

 


  • Polycrates

    In defense of Varvitsiotis, the “migrants” didn’t pay their Yacht’s Circulation Tax before entering Greece’s Territorial Waters. It appears the survivors have been well coached what to say and to whom ensuring maximum effect and residence however temporary until the investigation has concluded. If they were smart they would give the authorities the identity and nationality of the human traffickers.

  • WallyBaiter

    Scamnesty International and Human Rights Dump are at it again. The only rights concern is how Greek sovereignty is constantly violated by these illegals, who hop around from country to country til they make it to Greece to claim asylum. Their asylum claims are nonsense, go claim it in Turkey or any other country. There’s no shock or disbelief how these illegals are all smiling once they were transported to Athens.

    No one mentions how these illegals game the system in all this, and how well organized they are, from sailing into Greek waters and purposely damaging their ships, sending an SOS so the Greek coast guard tows them to EU waters, where they then proceed to claim asylum. Why didn’t they claim it in the previous countries they were in?

    Now of course in this latest incident, illegals are changing their statements, theirs no evidence of any beatings, they’re saying the Greek coast guard didn’t handle the rescue how they wanted, and the women and children drowned. More like the illegal con artists pierced the vessel as usual, and a few people drowned during the rescue operation.

    Varvitsiotis said: “In their statements, a father who lost his companion and their four children states clearly that the coast guard saved us. A brother who lost his mother and three brothers states the same.” He also said the alleged change in accounts was striking and curious.

  • WallyBaiter

    All clowning aside, these are economic migrants, they can claim asylum in Turkey, but don’t. They go through great lengths to make it to Greece, so they can end up in some EU country, these illegals are just manipulating and abusing the laws and regulations in place for real asylum seekers, so their asylum claims do not hold up.

    Here’s a fun fact, most of these bogus asylum seekers in this latest incident were AFGHANIS, NOT EVEN SYRIANS.

  • Polycrates

    It begs the question HOW did these Afghanis obtain the funds to make the trip. A) Illegal drug dealing, B) Illegal gun running, C) Theft or D) Terrorist Sponsored. I would say all the above. For them to reside in Turkey they are menial labour slaves with no rights, freedoms or respect. But upon entering the EU they become esteemed refugees, victims of persecution given great respect and all the hospitality that Travesty International and their supporters in the media can squeeze out of the victim nations.

  • Polycrates

    The Greek Navy submarine fleet could be sent out to intercept these “floaters” tow them back out to sea or preferably in Turkey’s territorial waters then submerge with no one ever knowing. Good German design with a very quiet diesel-electric plant. We should make use of them rather than allow them to rust moored along a quay. After all the tens of millions spent just on bribes they should in this instance prove to be very useful.

  • WallyBaiter

    The thing I don’t get is how can Scamnesty International and Human Rights Dump quickly lay blame on the Greek coast guard, but demand an investigation. The illegals claimed the ship was towing them back to Turkish waters, and they panicked. THEY JUMPED OVERBOARD, now seriously this was in the early hours of the morning, still dark out, I bet these idiots caused the panic.

    It plays out how the Greek coast guard said it did, they began to tow the boat, and some of the idiots dove off mistakenly thinking they were being towed back to Turkey, I wouldn’t be surprised if they purposely capsized the boat and threw in women and children thinking they were being towed back to Turkey.

    It is not at all true that the vessel was being towed at high speed toward Turkey,” Varvitsiotis said. “That is clear from the vessels’ coordinates, which we have at our disposal and that anyone who wants can see.”

  • PhoenixRisingEuropa

    The FACT that these ILLEGAL 3rd World immigrants are economic immigrants and NOT refugees is that they are trying to reach Greece via Turkey. There is NO WAR in Turkey so if they are trully leaving Afghanistan and Syria to escape war then why don’t they remain in Turkey? The Greek coast guard exists to guard Greece’s coast not to rescue arrogant illegal 3rd World criminals who have no respect for Greece’s immigration laws and national sovereignty!

  • Polycrates

    Afghanistan is a landlocked nation giving almost no opportunity whatsoever for the average citizens to learn how to swim. Therefore I find the comments of jumping overboard in panic at being towed back to Turkey an outright lie.
    More likely the cause was the boat capsizing as the passengers have virtually no understanding how to distribute weight on a floating object. I suspect they all rushed to one side and the boat either over turned or enough passengers fell off to right the boat again. The only other possibility was towing at such great speed the bow of the “Floaters” vessel became immersed (pushed under) by the wake of the coast guard vessel inundating “swamping” their vessel. That would be a stretch but an outside possibility based upon the size, construction and form of the two vessels and the horsepower and recorded speed of the coast guard vessel.

  • Polycrates

    In Turkey they get no free meals or housing, they become slaves to work the land as the peasants they are or abused labourers in factories.. While in Europe they are given residency, meals, housing with no strings attached and often they can send for their families. It doesn’t take long for profiteering human traffickers to get the word back to Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan that Europeans are the fools of the Western World and another Floater sets sail for Greece.

  • guest

    If you can take some constructive criticism, if you just stuck to being against illegal immigration (rather mix it than all the GD fascist Nazi crap) you’d have a lot more support.

    When GD supporters mix in Nazi crap what ends up happening is they undermine the very cause you are trying to support. (since leftist morons mentally associate everyone that opposes illegal immigration as being a fascist).

  • twopenceworth

    No-one cares what you have to say. Golden Dawns’ popularity is continuing to rise despite all the “nazi crap” they use. It is you, who is trying to undermine us, by telling us how we should conduct ourselves.