The Greek coastguard has rescued 17 Turkish citizens, including children, who reached the island of Oinousses on Monday (19 February) and asked for asylum, citing fear of persecution back home.
According to local media, six children, seven men and four women crossed the Aegean Sea from Izmir and arrived at Oinousses, 2 kilometres off the north-east coast of the Greek island of Chios.
The local press reported that they are civil servants and judges who claim to be at risk of persecution launched by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Following the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, it is the fifth incident involving Turkish citizens who seek asylum in Greece in order to avoid facing charges in Turkey.
The Turkish nationals were taken to a Chios hot spot for a preliminary inquiry and will be transferred to the Piraeus port, where the regular asylum procedure will be followed.
Last week, a 37-year-old Turkish teacher and her two children died at the Turkish-Greek border of Evros river after their boat capsized.
She and her husband had been imprisoned for 11 months in Turkey after the failed coup. Both were fired as part of the regime’s prosecution.
Pushbacks at the Bulgarian border
On 14 February, MEPs from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament visited Bulgaria, aiming to check the ongoing Frontex [EU border management body] operations at the Bulgarian land border with Turkey.
Leftist MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat from the Confederal Group of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL) stressed it was highly possible that Turkish citizens are prevented from claiming asylum at the border
“Both sides were telling us that when they saw large groups of people on the Turkish side of the border, the Bulgarian border guards called on the Turkish border guards. So this avoids the push-back. I keep asking myself, maybe there are also Turkish citizens among them. And they are sent back to the Turkish authorities,” she told BulgarianPresidency.eu website.
Unlike Greece, Bulgaria has been “cooperative” with Turkey in returning people allegedly related to the network of preacher Fetullah Gülen, considered by Ankara a terrorist organisation.