Three Greek rescue volunteers have been detained in Turkey, according to Greek and Turkish media sources. The news was first spread by the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD), a group based in Turkey.
The three detainees are volunteer rescue workers from a fringe communist political movement called the T-34 Labor Group. They were not part of the official disaster relief mission dispatched by the Greek government.
The Greek rescue volunteers were active in the area of Armutlou of the Hatay Province in Turkey when they were detained by Turkish anti-terrorism personnel. Conflicting reports have emerged on why they were detained and what their current status is.
Greek rescue volunteers detained in Turkey
According to reports by Greek public broadcaster ERT and several Turkish outlets, the three detainees are part of a volunteer rescue mission organized by the T-34 Labor Group. The men were identified by one report as Panagiotis Masouras, Alexandros Bazoras, and Mihalis Panagiotopoulos.
The three rescue volunteers currently believed to be held in detention are not part of the mission recently dispatched by the Greek government to help Turkey in the aftermath of the two massive earthquakes. In fact, the official Greek disaster relief mission spearheaded by the Hellenic Fire Department’s specialist EMAK unit has already returned to Greece.
The ÇHD, a group of lawyers in Turkey, appears to have broken the news first on Twitter. They also reportedly informed the Greek Consulate of the detentions.
Hatay'da arama kurtarma çalışmalarına katılmak üzere ülkeye gelen 3 Yunan vatandaşının gözaltına alındığı bilgisi üzerine emniyete geçtik.
Emniyet, kişilerin ihbar üzerine emniyete getirildiğini söylüyor.
— Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (@chdgenelmerkez) February 17, 2023
On Facebook, the T-34 Labor Group posted an attached photo of three men bearing a T-34 banner with the caption: “3 of our comrades who went to help with the popular committees of the earthquake victims.”
“Immediate release! International solidarity the weapon of the peoples! We invite everyone to a gathering at 17.00 at the Turkish Embassy. NO PERSECUTION TO OUR COMRADES – INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY IS NOT CRIMINALIZED – SOLIDARITY TO THE TURKISH PEOPLE,” the post also read, seemingly referring to the incident.
According to one Turkish publication, “A lawyer following the issue said that they had not heard from the detainees since 16:30 and that the Adana Immigration Administration officials said that three Greeks had not been brought to the administration.”
Other reports have said that the three main were detained for administrative purposes and would be deported.
This is a developing story.