The Turkish Coast Guard Command announced on Saturday that it rescued 41 asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea who were pushed back into Turkish territorial waters with one set on fire by the Greek Coast Guard.
The command said on its website that coast guard teams were dispatched to rescue asylum seekers early Saturday off the Cesme district in Izmir province.
An asylum seeker with a burn on his leg was handed to Emergency Medical Personnel.
Additionally, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu shared footage on Twitter that showed Greek forces pushing asylum seekers into Turkish territorial waters.
“Greek Law Enfor. Agencies seek to burn people, pouring gasoline on them, which indicates massacre under scout of Europe,” said Soylu.
“Europe shall go down history as instigator of this malignancy, by spoiling Greece and keeping silent to what’s going on there @EU_Commission,” he added.
Speaking about the incident on the video, one of the victims said: “There was a woman. She said: ‘You go.’ But We did not go. She brought oil, spilled over us and set fire. The police said: ‘You got burnt as you did not go to Turkey.’
“They brought us here with our own boat and left us at the sea,” the victim added.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.