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Dutch Journalist Causes Stir in Greece over Migrant Pushbacks

Ingeborg Beugel
The Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel, who accused Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to his face, of lying about migrant pushbacks. Credit: Ingeborg Beugel/Facebook

Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel continues to cause stir after publicly accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of “lying” about migrant pushbacks.

On Tuesday, during a joint press conference with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Beugel, who lives in Greece asked the Greek Prime Minister:

“PM Mitsotakis, when at last will you stop lying about pushbacks, lying about what’s happening with refugees in Greece? Please do not insult me and the intelligence of all journalists all over the world. There has been overwhelming evidence and you keep denying and lying. This is like narcissistic abuse. Why are you not honest?”

Mitsotakis replied that the unsubstantiated accusations insulted himself personally and the Greek people who have done a great deal for refugees and migrants, especially at a time Greece was going through an economic crisis.

Beugel, who has lived on the Greek island of Hydra for the past 40 years, is very active regarding migration issues and has often accused the EU and Greece of migrant pushbacks in her writings.

After Tuesday’s incident, she spoke to interviewers from Greece’s Kontra channel, claiming that one half of Hydra’s population voted for the (now-outlawed) neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in the country’s 2015 elections.

Hydra mayor threatens to sue Beugel

Hydra mayor Giorgos Koukoudakis reacted to the Dutch journalist’s comments about the local people and threatened to sue her, posting the following on Facebook:

“He called us extreme right-wingers, racists, Golden Dawn members, and xenophobes, who bully foreigners!

“As a Hydraean and mayor of this island that is famous for its hospitality… that is why citizens from all over the world — including this lady — choose Hydra not only for holidays, but also for a place of residence.

“I feel incredibly offended by the blatant lies that this lady uttered yesterday, and for this reason I will immediately appeal to Justice!

“Such insults against the people of Hydra cannot be tolerated!!!” the mayor fumed.

“I am very sorry that after so many years, during which our local community has embraced this lady, as well as all the foreigners who live here, she has something bad to say about her fellow citizens and neighbors.

“Now is time for justice to have the final word. Now she will be called to court to prove, among other things, exactly when half of the people of Hydra voted for Golden Dawn.”

After the Hydra mayor posted his comment, Beugel spoke to Kontra once again, retracting her remarks, saying that her Greek language skills are not very good and that she didn’t mean to say that one half of the island voted for the Golden Dawn neo-Nazis.

Ingeborg Beugel speaks of character assassination by Greek press

On Thursday, Efimerida ton Syntakton published an interview with the Dutch journalist who, inter alia, spoke about an attempted character assassination effort by the Greek press.

“A character assassination attempt was made in order to silence me,” Beugel charged. “They said that I have migrant servants or that I violated the law because I am hosting an undocumented migrant; none of that is true.

“The Afghan I host has been granted asylum, waiting for six years. I have no servants. I also host a Greek homeless person, I help Greek families and homeless people,” she added.

Beugel continued to insist that Greece is responsible for migrant pushbacks, an issue that annoyed the Greek prime minister because he doesn’t want to admit it, Beugel charged.

“If one sees how much time, energy and money the mechanisms in Greece need to cover up the migrant pushbacks, one can understand that this is government policy,” the Dutch journalist said.

Organizations such as the International Press Institute and Women in Journalism supported Beugel, denouncing what they saw as efforts in the Greek press to defame her.

The migrant pushback issue

Greece has been accused of migrant pushbacks and other human rights violations regarding migrants by organizations such as Lighthouse Reports and Forensic Architecture.

In addition, forcible returns of illegal migrants have been documented by the Council of Europe’s human rights commission, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.

Reports of border crossings of rubber dinghies from Turkey to Greece continue to occur on a regular basis. However, there has been an increase of people saying they have been forcibly returned to Turkish waters after reaching Greek territorial waters.

Greece has been completely overwhelmed by migrant trafficking originating in Turkey, in recnet years. Migrants from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa can fly to Turkey without even a visa and from there cross over to Greece using clandestine means.

Greek refugee and migrant camps have overflowed their capacity by several times. The Aegean islands close to Turkey are still overwhelmed, while towns and cities on the mainland have a hard time coping with large numbers of migrants who are there for months — some even staying indefinitely.

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