Turkish police incited migrants to throw stones and engage in acts of violence at the border with Greece last month, news site Greek City Times said on Wednesday citing an anonymous interview with a Syrian refugee.
A 22-year-old Syrian refugee using the pseudonym Nariz told the Greek newspaper Ethnos that he had seen Turkish police directing violent incidents against the Greek security forces.
“They were told to throw stones and other objects. But I couldn’t videotape them doing that. It was very dangerous because they were fanatical about what they were doing,” he said.
Turkey announced in late February it would no longer prevent migrants trying to reach Europe. The move was perceived as an attempt to drum up more European Union aid for the roughly 4 million refugees inside Turkey, and to rally European support for Turkey’s military campaign in Idlib, Syria.
Nariz said he had lived in Turkey for several years after fleeing the war in Syria. At the end of February, he headed to the border to try to cross into Greece, but he discovered that the Greek side of the crossing remained closed.
“I stayed there for a long time, doing nothing. Without enough food and being very cold. When we started walking along the border in case we managed to find a way to go across, we received tear gas and bullets from the Greek forces so as not to cross to the Greek side,” he said.
Nariz stayed at the border for 27 days, until forced to leave by the Turkish authorities.
“Turkish police set fire to the tents while the refugees they were sleeping. They left nothing behind. The scenario at the border from beginning to end was planned by the Turkish state. On the last day, they set fire and then forced the people to leave the border. Their behaviour was inhumane,” Nariz said.
Nariz said many people had sold all their belongings to embark on what they thought would be a long journey into Europe. He said the Turkish authorities only gave refugees at the border 100 Turkish lira ($15) each.
Greece has been criticised for suspending asylum applications and deploying violence against migrants trying to cross.
The New York Times reported last month that the Greek government was violating international law by holding migrants at a secret extrajudicial location before expelling them to Turkey without giving them the chance to claim asylum or speak to a lawyer.
Greece accused Turkish authorities of trying to help migrant cross by firing rounds of tear gas towards Greek border units.