On April 26, 53 refugees arrived on the island of Lesvos, including 35 children and two pregnant women.

The group is not taken to a shelter, but is put on a life raft by men in black uniforms with balaclavas on the high seas and left to their own devices.

It is yet another example of so-called 'pushbacks'.

In recent months, there have been increasingly persistent reports that the Greek government is illegally sending refugees back to Turkey.

This is contrary to international treaties.

The Greeks deny that these kinds of pushbacks happen, but last week's events on Lesvos are well documented.

When the refugees arrive on Lesvos at 9 a.m., they contact Aegean Boat Report, an organization led by Norwegian activist Tommy Olsen.

He has come up with a series of revelations about illegal deportations from Greece in recent months.

Refugees know they will not go unnoticed when they approach Olsen.

On the advice of Olsen, the group walks to a nearby village. Via six different mobile phones, the refugees send photos and videos that indeed show children and women (the full report can be read here). They also send coordinates of where they are, so that it is indisputable that they are on Lesvos. At 1:30 pm, the group is found by the Greek police, who say they will take them to a nearby camp where they have to undergo a corona test.

After being confiscated by the police officers, the cell phones go off the air.

An islander tells Aegean Boat Report that he sees a bus driving "with fogged windows" with many children in it, escorted by two police cars.

Later, the refugees tell them to get on a "gray military ship".

Those who refuse receive blows from "men in dark uniforms with balaclavas."

It is already dark when the ship sails out to sea.

After some time ("it seemed like hours") the uniformed men force the refugees on the high seas to transfer to a large life raft, which leads to great panic.

Again, those who do not want to are beaten.

After a few hours, the Turkish coast guard picks up the group and distributes a video message of the rescue, showing the same people as previously in the photos sent from Lesvos, according to the Aegean Boat Report.

Hundreds of reports of illegal 'pushbacks'

The incident is not an isolated one.

In recent months, hundreds of reports have been received about so-called illegal 'pushbacks', including from the United Nations refugee organization UNHCR.

He wants Greece to investigate the reports.

In recent months, the Legal Center Lesvos organization brought five lawsuits against Greece at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

According to the organization, it is a "systematic and widespread practice" carried out by the government under the leadership of right-wing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi speaks of "fake news".

The photo shows how the Turkish coast guard picks up refugees in early April

The photo shows how the Turkish coast guard picks up refugees in early April

Photo: ANP

Earlier ship was not helped

The most recent case brought by Legal Center Lesvos has strong similarities with last week's events in Lesvos.

In October 2020, a fishing vessel off the coast of Crete was caught in a storm.

There were 180 to 200 refugees on board, including at least 40 children.

The ship was not helped, while two boats from the Greek Coast Guard followed closely for five hours.

Then masked members of the Greek Coast Guard entered the ship.

They forced the refugees to transfer to their own ships and set sail for the Turkish coast 200 kilometers away.

There they put the refugees in lifeboats without food or drink, where money and passports were taken.

'Violation of International Law'

"The illegal, very dangerous way of returning children and pregnant women is a blatant violation of international law," says Tineke Ceelen, director of the Refugee Foundation.

"I hope that the European Union will respond strongly to this. As a Union, we must not tolerate this kind of harsh, illegal and inhumane practices."

SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk tells NU.nl: "This shows once again that European asylum policy is failing. Secretary of State for Justice Ankie Broekers-Knol should take the lead and finally get to work in Brussels. Refugees must have a fair deal. receive asylum procedure and not be chased away like animals. "