A disturbing video has emerged this weekend from the Turkish government, showing a crew member of a Greek coast guard ship attempting sink a life raft carry full of refugees.
The video shows the crewman from what looked like Hellenic Coast Guard cruiser, poking holes with a long sharpened pole into an inflatable raft that is carrying 58 people. The Turkish coast guard filmed the incident 45 kilometers from the Greek island Leros. They pulled the quickly sinking boat’s passengers to safety and delivered them to the City of Didim, a Turkish port.
“The Turkish coastguard regularly films its rescue operations, and has previously shared footage with international media,” a government official said.
After the video surfaced online, the Hellenic Coast Guard issued the following statement:
1. The Hellenic Coastguard categorically denies the articles in the foreign press, as well as the doctored audiovisual material on a foreign website, according to which a Hellenic Coastguard vessel allegedly tried to sink a boat carrying refugees. Moreover, we obviously deny any effort by members of the crew to draw near to their large vessel a small inflatable craft by using a nautical hook (that is, a tool used in accordance with international shipping technique and practices for this purpose) while a nearby Turkish coastguard vessel assisted the rescue operation by lighting and facilitating all of the actions with a spotlight.
2. We believe it to be at the very least contradictory to allege that the Hellenic Coastguard supposedly follows such practices, which are incompatible with the values of our culture and which are condemnable at a time when the Hellenic Coastguard, from early 2015 until today, has saved some 90,000 refugees from the sea in Search and Rescue operations.
3. We also categorically deny that there was an exchange of relevant dialogue between the Heads of the Coastguards of Greece and Turkey, as presented in articles in the Turkish press.
Greek authorities deny the footage is real and stated that it was “doctored” somehow.
“None of the thousands of refugees who have arrived in Greece [in recent days] have complained to the police about an incident like this,” a spokesperson said.
The footage emerged just days after the Turkish and Greek prime ministers met in Ankara, successfully agreeing to co-ordinate more closely on the refugee issue.
According to a Turkish official, the government showed the video to the head of Greece’s coast guard earlier in the week and ask them to stop sinking boats carrying refugees.
“This is shocking,” said the Turkish official. “We expect that this footage will be investigated – it’s difficult for us to understand why they would try to sink a refugee boat.”
Amnesty International said it was “profoundly concerned” after viewing the videos and they have urged the Greek government to launch a “prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the incident.”
Featured image via screen grab