A new video clip, which was released by the Turkish Institute of Public Diplomacy on Friday, puts an even more disturbing face on the Syrian refugee crisis. The clip (captured by the Turkish coast guard) appears to show an inflatable raft full of Syrian refugees in the Aegean sea. Under the cloak of night, the raft attempted to seek rescue with the Greek coast guard, which did not appear to welcome the refugees.
Instead, the clip shows a man reaching over the side of a Hellenic coast guard vessel. He brandishes a pole and pushes down on the refugee raft as the occupants scream in fear. About midway through the clip, the scene shifts to a black-and-white view before cutting to a subsequent shot of the raft approaching the Turkish coast guard vessel. The raft is barely afloat at that point, but all 58 refugees (including children) made it safely aboard.
The Hellenic Republic Ministry Of Foreign Affairs published a statement on their website regarding this incident. Although the ship in this video displays Greek coast guard livery, the coast guard says the video is “doctored”:
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.
This latest incident occurs after over 650,000 Syrian refugees have reached the EU by way of Greece. In October, the Greek coast guard rescued 31 refugees (and recovered seven bodies) after a refugee boat sank during a collision with a petrol vessel. The tragic event occurred off the island of Lesbos during a rescue mission by the coast guard. If the video in question is real, then it is indeed contradictory to Greece’s ongoing rescues of Syrian refugees.