A total of 144 illegal migrants, allegedly including a number of Iranian activists, were detained by gendarmes in Turkey’s Aegean province of Muğla on Friday evening.
The migrants from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and Bangladesh, among them 43 children and 41 women, were found in three vehicles in the district of Ula near Marmaris, a coastal town frequently used by those who want to pass from Turkey to Greece by boat to seek refugee status in Europe.
The gendarmes also arrested three people on suspicion of smuggling migrants.
Lawyer Türkan Aslan Ağaç from the Law and Human Rights Commission of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) told the news site Gazete Duvar that the immigrants are being held at Ula Repatriation Centre in Muğla province. Noting that lawyers are unable to make contact with the immigrants on the weekend, Ağaç said, “We have information that some of them are sick. We are pursuing the situation.”
Turkey’s interior minister announced in November that more than 234,000 illegal migrants have been prevented from entering the country since the beginning of the year. Some 170 people have died and 708 have been wounded in the last three years as a result of Greek officials pushing back migrants who manage to cross the border, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters on 20 October.
Turkey and Greece, two countries at the frontline of a refugee crisis that has escalated due to the war in Syria, the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and most recently the Iranian government’s brutal oppression against protestors, frequently accuse each other of violating international law over illegal migrants, who hope to live in Europe and risk dangerous journeys to that end.
Greece announced on Friday that it had discovered 100 people from Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Israel and Iraq in distress off an island close the Athens. Four smugglers, who had reportedly been paid 8,000 euros by each passenger, were arrested by the Greek authorities.
On the same day, six people died and five others were injured when a bus carrying 31 migrants fell into an irrigation channel in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, on the border with Syria.