News on migration and asylum from around the region - Nouvelles de la région sur les questions de migration et d'asile

Thursday, January 22, 2015

[GREECE] Amnesty International: Greece: Farmakonisi migrant tragedy - one year on and still no justice for victims

20 janvier 2015

The Greek authorities’ failure to adequately investigate the deaths of 11 Afghans who drowned at sea shows a blatant disregard for justice for the victims and their families and exemplifies their hard-line approach towards asylum and migration, said Amnesty International on the anniversary of the Farmakonisi tragedy. 

On 20 January 2014, 11 Afghans, including eight children, lost their lives when their fishing boat sank near the Greek island of Farmakonosi. Survivors claim they were towed at great speed back towards Turkey. The authorities dropped an investigation into the tragedy. Since then, more than 100 refugees and migrants have died crossing the Aegean Sea. 

“It is an outrage that, in the face of all the survivors’ testimonies and the inconsistencies in the evidence provided by the coastguard, that the Greek authorities have failed to conduct an adequate investigation into this tragedy. Vulnerable people forced to flee their own country have been left mourning their loved ones with little hope for justice and reparation,” says John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia. 

One Afghan survivor, Sabur Azizi, who lost his wife and 10-year-old son in the incident, explained: “Someone showed them the baby asking for help but the coastguards swore at us instead of helping us… When the coastguard cut the rope and tried to move away we started sinking.” 

He and another survivor, who lost his wife and four children, were among 16 of the refugees who managed to get onto the coastguard vessel after their boat capsized. They told Amnesty International they were beaten and held at gunpoint. They also said that the captain threatened “he would cause them more trouble if they dared report any of what happened that night”.