Turkey policemen, Kurdish MP flee to Greek island in refugee boat

A boat full of asylum seekers arrived at the shores of western Greece earlier this week, with a Kurdish MP and 20 former Turkish police officers onboard.

According to the Greek newspaper Ilia Live, the policemen and the member of parliament fled Turkey in order to escape persecution from the Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The fishing boat, which held 65 passengers overall, was also boarded by other migrants and reportedly ten members of the outlawed terror group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). They arrived at the coast of the Greek town Katakolo on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking to the paper following their arrival, one of the police officers said: “We are from Turkey and we were police officers,” showing the reporters a picture of him on his phone as proof. “We have to get out of here.”

The escaped police officers are reportedly members of the Gulen movement, which follows the Turkish Islamic modernist cleric Fethullah Gulen who the Turkish government maintains was behind the failed military coup attempt in 2016. Following that unsuccessful attempt, the government set about cracking down on the movement and arrested or made redundant tens of thousands of suspected Gulenists.

Another passenger, a Kurdish journalist named Azad, allegedly spent three years in prison in Turkey before fleeing. “Prison is tough,” he said, adding that “I want to leave for any country I can communicate in English, to be able to continue my life.”

One country he wished to reach is Canada: “I have left my own people behind and I know I cannot go back to see them. But I cannot stay in Turkey. If I stay I will end up in prison again.”

READ: Turkey releases journalists charged with exposing intelligence secrets in Libya

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