Five Syrian refugee children were reportedly arrested and subsequently beaten by police after they were found to be carrying plastic toy guns.
The boys, all between the ages of 12 and 16, were on their way to perform in a local children's play in Greece, according to The Independent, and were carrying toy guns that were props to be used in the production.
Amnesty International said in a statement that the boys were stopped by police “on suspicion of being members of an armed group” and then thoroughly searched. Once officials found the plastic guns, they were allegedly detained, stripped naked and beaten.
Greece humanitarian representative for Save the Children, Andreas Ring, was disgusted by the police's alleged actions, saying "It is unacceptable that children who survived years of violence and a notoriously dangerous journey to reach somewhere safe are now stranded in Greece, in conditions that are further traumatizing them."
The children's lawyer, Electra Koutra, posted a statement to Facebook describing the boys' treatment,
"The children were taken to a secluded room by [two] policemen, where they were asked to undress completely. When [two] of them refused to remove their underwear, police exercised physical violence on them ... [and] the others advised [another boy] to undress, in order to not get beaten too," Koutra writes. "As for water, they were advised, when they begged for it, to go drink directly from the police station's toilet which was impossible to approach because of the filth and odor. They were not allowed to use their cellphones for calling their parents."
When volunteers attempted to report the incident after the boys were released, they were turned away at the scene, according to The Independent. After hours of work by the children's lawyer, the Children's Department of the Central Police Directorate agreed to take over the case and investigate.
Greece's minister of public order has said that while a criminal investigation is underway, he refuses to rush to any conclusions about what happened.
"The ministry investigates any case any breach of law and rules and it is known that I will show no mercy to any proven violation," he said in a statement, according to The Independent. "But it won’t rush to conclusion when the investigation is still running. It has caused great surprise that this allegation has been accepted without question when it’s under investigation."