Locals attack journalist reporting on migrant crisis on Greek island and stop people getting off boat

‘My cameras were thrown in the water,’ alleged victim claims

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 03 March 2020 14:54
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Journalist attacked while reporting on refugee crisis in Greece

Locals have allegedly beaten up a journalist and stopped migrants from getting off a boat in Lesbos, a Greek island which has seen an influx in refugees arriving on its shores in recent days.

Images show a group of men kicking the reporter on the ground and punching him on top of a ledge.

The locals prevented migrants from leaving a dinghy in the port of Thermi in Lesbos, where hundreds of people have arrived on boats since Turkey re-opened its border with Greece last week.

Michael Trammer, a photojournalist, has claimed that he was the victim of the attack while reporting on the ongoing migrant crisis on the island.

“My cameras were thrown in the water,” he tweeted after the incident on Sunday. “I was beaten and kicked heavily”.

“This lasted a while,” he said, sharing an image of his head bandaged up.

“I am (kinda) ok,” he wrote on the same day as the attack. “The refugees though are still sitting in the boat. Plastic bottles are [being] thrown at them”

The Foreign Press Association of Greece said after the assault that “certain groups on the island of Lesbos move in an organised manner to intimate and attack journalists covering the flow of refugees and migrants arriving from Turkey”.

They said: “At least two colleagues have already suffered such attacks, resulting in grave injury, pursuits and misappropriation or damage of their equipment.”

The island has seen more refugees approaching its shore after Turkey announced that it would open its border with Europe and let migrants leave the country.

Turkey is already home to over 3 million Syrian refugees, and the country fears that renewed violence in Syria’s northwest will see many more crossing over.

Crowds gathered at its border with Greece after people heard the crossing points would open, and Greek authorities fired teargas and stun grenades to try and push them back.

Police said that at least 1,000 migrants had reached Greece’s eastern Aegean islands since Sunday morning, and their arrival has been met with resistance by some residents and authorities.

On Sunday, a group of locals gathered as a migrant boat arrived in Lesbos, shouting at those onboard and pushing their dinghy away from the shore for around an hour.

Video footage emerged the next day showing Greek coastguards seemingly trying to capsize a boat that had arrived off the shore and hitting the people onboard with sticks.

A Syrian child drowned at sea on Monday while trying to reach Lesbos, officials said, marking the first official casualty since Turkey opened its borders last week. It was unclear if the child was on the same boat in the video.

Over 20,000 asylum seekers are currently living on Lesbos, many forced to stay in one overcrowded camp, Moria, which was originally intended to accommodate fewer than 3,000 people.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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