Mass grave of refugees in Evros uncovered (1 Update)

During the first seven months of the year 2010, 38 human beings died while attempting to cross the heavily guarded Turkish-Greek border. The corpses of the dead are being transferred to the department of forensic medicine of the university clinic of Alexandroupoulis. Since they can often not be identified, only a DNA-test is being carried out so that relatives can still gain certainty.

Mass grave in the Evros region

On 25th of June 2010 19 people drowned in the river Evros/Meriç. 14 corpses washed ashore on the Greek side and were brought to the university clinic by an undertaker from Orestiada. After the dead had been examined and registered, the undertaker brought them to a village of the Turkish minority on the mountains above Souflí for them to be buried on muslim cemetery.

cemetery of the illegal immigrants - muftia evros

cemetery of the illegal immigrants - muftia evros

However, the corpses can now be found in a mass grave outside the village of Sideró, in inaccessible terrain. Only a sign, riddled by many gun-shots, tells that this is the cemetery of the illegal immigrants where the corpses are buried. It is not immediately obvious that it is a mass grave. Upon closer inspection, one can however see holes that were excavated and again filled up by bulldozers and that can contain up to ten corpses.

Further investigation by w2eu, currently in the area to look for the corps of the father of a family who died in the incident on the 25th of June and whose family is currently in relative security shows that this practice has been ongoing for years. It is believed that between 150 and 200 dead have been buried in the mass grave. Although the local government ordered an ablution and burial according to muslim rite, the dead have merely been buried in the mass grave. This practice fundamentally lacks any respect for the dead as well as their relatives. Even an exhumation for the dead to be buried in a more dignified way is not possible anymore.

The existence of this mass grave at the external border of the EU fits the image of constant and continued humiliation and degradation of refugees. It is with a systematic brutality that refugees and migrants are stopped from crossing the borders, a brutality that even puts up with the death of those looking for protection. Even after their death, those human beings remain second class people that seemingly not even deserve a burial of human dignity.

We protest the abominable treatment of refugees and migrants and the contempt that is shown to them, no matter if dead or alive.

Update [13.8.10]:

The deputy prefect of Evros, Ioannis Papaioannou, denies the existence of the mass grave in the local channel Evros-net and argues about an attempt to bring negative publicity for greece in europe…

The newspaper Ta Nea writes (12.8.10):

For the villagers of Sidero, which administratively belongs to the municipality Soufli and most inhabitants are Greek Muslims, it is a shared secret that this thing is happening in their village for many years. Initially the police buried there dead illegal immigrants. Subsequently mouftia of Evros requested that the muslim burial rules had to be followed, as the majority of illegal immigrants are muslims. That is how the “cemetery” in Sidero was created. Sanitary permission was never issued for that place. Besides, apart from the sign nothing else resembles a graveyard. In recent years, the official State decided to subsidize the process. An undertaker was set after an auction procedure. Every corpse is priced for 700 euros. According to the law the corpses are kept in the refrigerator for up 80 days, and if noone looks for them, they end to the cemetery-dump.

Mufti Mehmet Serif Damadoglou, who is responsible for the operation of the site, claims that everything is done properly and the Muslim ritual is followed. Moreover, he adds that in several cases the relatives do not want to proceed in an exhumation.

About w2eu

This is the blog of the antiracist network Welcome to Europe. It was formerly known as


The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.


We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!


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