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Death of 19 refugees at the Greece - Turkey border

After the #deaths of 19 #asylumseekers on the Greek-Turkish #border earlier this month, hundreds have taken to the streets in #Athens and #Istanbul, protesting the #pushback of asylum seekers and the inhumane treatment of #refugees at the border.

In Istanbul, the #protestors marched to the Greek consulate last Saturday to condemn the actions of the Greek border guards and government. They were carrying signs saying, “protect people, not borders” and “close borders to racism, open to humanity.”

In #Athens, the protestors carried an inflatable dinghy – like those asylum seekers use to cross the sea from #Turkey into #Greece – and a banner saying, “stop pushbacks, stop border violence.”

The 19 asylum seekers on the Greek-Turkish border were reported to be stripped of their belongings and clothing in below freezing temperatures by Greek border guards, before being pushed back. Greece already has a reputation to carry out illegal pushbacks.

Arrivals into Greece have almost become impossible for asylum seekers because of Greece’s harsh migration policies and acts. Turkey continuously accuses Greece of illegal pushbacks, claiming it violates human right and international laws. In response, Greece demands Turkey prevents asylum seekers from leaving the country and sometimes even encourages people to cross into Greece.

“The tragic incident at the Turkish border highlights the importance of combating illegal immigration and smuggling networks that put the lives of people in mortal danger purely for economic gain,” said Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi, denying the connection between Greece’s harsh border policies and the deaths.

While these two countries argue over policy, while the EU watches, people’s lives are constantly at risk. The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 2,500 people died at sea as they tried to reach Europe via Turkey or North Africa last year.

The deaths of the 19 refugees are yet another consequence of EU’s inaction and the utterly inhumane border policies of Fortress Europe that lead thousands to their deaths since the beginning of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’.

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