Greek police interrogate Dutch journalists over Afghan refugees film
A Dutch film crew including experienced international correspondent Bram Vermeulen was taken to a police station and interrogated by the Greek police at the border of Greece and Turkey, it emerged over the weekend. Vermeulen, once named the top journalist in the Netherlands, said that he and his camera crew were blocked from following a group of Afghan refugees who were allegedly assaulted by authorities in Bulgaria.
"We were not officially arrested, but taken by the police for an interview. The police prevented us from following a large group of Afghan refugees who were beaten up by the Bulgarian border police. Several were bitten by dogs and their shoes were taken off," wrote Vermeulen on Twitter.
The journalist’s team was working on a report for VPRO program Frontline about violence against people seeking asylum, and the push-backs they encounter. Push-backs are illegal operations in which refugees are forced back over a border immediately after they cross it. This way, their fundamental rights are violated, because they are blocked from the possibility to apply for asylum. Their individual circumstances are not considered. Push-backs violate, among other laws, the prohibition of collective expulsions specified in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Vermeulen had traveled to the Greek border region of Evros for the purpose of interviewing some of these people about their recent experiences. They encountered a group of Afghan refugees, including children, and planned to follow them along a route used by migrants whose human rights were severely violated in the past.
According to Vermeulen, the Afghan refugees knew exactly where the Greek police would intercept them. The Dutch crew joined them in an attempt to record the operation. "When we filmed that operation, we were also taken along."
"We do not know where the Afghans are now," said Vermeulen.