HarekAct Newsletter V – April, May, and June 2018

Developments on the Greek Islands

In mid-April, after a court decision, the news that the restriction of movement to the mainland for all migrants arriving on the Greek islands from then on had been lifted made the headlines. Hopes were high of these developments among refugees and their supporters. However, the Greek government quickly issued an administrative decision only a couple of days later, reinstating the former policy, known as the “containment policy” that is responsible for the terrible conditions many migrants face.

Meanwhile, in the four-day trial against the #Moria35 in April, 32 of the 35 defendants were collectively convicted of injuring police officers. The process was politically motivated from the very beginning with almost no proof against the defendants. They were collectively convicted to a 26 months suspended prison sentence, though this penalty is temporarily suspended, since their lawyers lodged an appeal against the decision. Valeria Hänsel, who contributes to HarekAct, drawing on her insights on the situation of refugees on Lesvos and focusing on their detention and deportations, wrote a report about the trial, that we published on HarekAct (in German). Continue reading HarekAct Newsletter V – April, May, and June 2018

REACTION TO ANNOUNCEMENT TO CLOSE PIKPA CAMP

Bild könnte enthalten: eine oder mehrere Personen und im Freien

Lesvos solidarity – Pikpa published a call for solidarity:

The North Aegean regional governor announced the closure of Pikpa camp on the basis of a report by the health inspection which found shortcomings in the common kitchen handled by the residents, a broken net in the food distribution area and a leakage to a water tank for washing machines. For these reasons, it considers Pikpa dangerous to public health and the environment. Continue reading REACTION TO ANNOUNCEMENT TO CLOSE PIKPA CAMP

‘The least worst option’: Refugees in Turkey relieved, sceptical about Erdogan victory

With some candidates pushing an anti-refugee line, many asylum-seekers welcome the Turkish president’s electoral success – but not all.

An estimated 3.9 million refugees are currently living in Turkey (AFP)

Via Middle East Eye – While Turkish citizens headed to the polls in high numbers on Sunday to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, millions of refugees living in the country waited for results with bated breath.

With a refugee population estimated to stand at 3.9 million – the largest in the world – many saw their fate hanging in the balance.

Whether Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan or even Egyptian, refugees knew the election results could have a direct effect on their stay in Turkey. Continue reading ‘The least worst option’: Refugees in Turkey relieved, sceptical about Erdogan victory

A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria

Saad Abdllah reports for the Samos Chronicles about a forced deportation from Turkey to Syria. His friend Mohammad was attempting to cross the Aegean Sea to Greece by boat with other migrants when they were picked up by the Turkish Coast Guard shortly after starting. They were then detained for 6 days, loaded onto a bus without knowing the destination and finally ended up in Idlib, Syria.

Little is known on what happens to migrants who are being picked up by the Turkish Coast Guard, Police or Gendarmery when trying to irregularly cross to Greece, except these horrific single stories of  detention and forced deportation. We would like to ask our readers to share their knowledge, insights, articles and contributions on this issue with us! Please contact us at harekact@bordermonitoring.eu.


Via Samos Chronicles (19th June) – For the past ten days I have been waiting for news from Mohammad. Like me he comes from Aleppo but for the past 6 years he has been with his mother and brother living in Istanbul. Mohammad is 18 years old.

We became friends through Facebook where he saw that I was involved with many refugees in Athens and in Samos. He had read my story in the Samos Chronicles. As a young gay man he turned to me for advice and help which I was happy to give. Over the past six months we have talked a lot and a good friendship has developed. I know that he trusts me.

Continue reading A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria

Nobody Migrates Without a Reason!

The Migrant Solidarity Kitchen, the Migrant Solidarity Network – Ankara and Hamisch – Istanbul Syrian Cultural House issued a statement saying:

Nobody Migrates Without a Reason!

Zero Tolerance for Anti-Immigrant Policies!

In Solidarity with our friends from these initiatives and migrants in Turkey we say #notoantimmigrantpolicies #gocmenkarsitisiyasetegecityok

** English Version (17th June) ** Turkish and Arabic below **

Since the announcement of early elections on 18th of April, electoral campaigns have brought together thousands of people in different cities and squares across the country.

One of the frequently-heard campaign promises during these meetings and rallies has been the promise to send migrants back home, which is the reason why we have decided to make this statement and launch this campaign.

Continue reading Nobody Migrates Without a Reason!

Where LGBTQ War Refugees Finally Feel Safe

Via Narratively – When you’re queer in the Middle East, escaping war doesn’t mean you’ve escaped the people who want you dead.

“Turkey is now home to around 3.6 million Syrian refugees. In 2015, there were approximately 400 self-identified LGBTQ Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to the Organization for Refugee, Asylum & Migration. The actual number is likely much higher because many are too afraid to speak out. They are accompanied by LGBTQ asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq, and other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Homosexuality is illegal in many of these countries—even punishable by death in some—but legal in Turkey, making Istanbul a beacon for queer refugees.

“At the bottom of one of Istanbul’s many hills, along a windy road lined with mosques, barber shops and tea gardens, is Istanbul’s only shelter for LGBTQ refugees. Not far from ancient Byzantine walls, Aman LGBT Shelter currently houses 14 LGBTQ refugees, the majority of them from Syria.

Continue reading Where LGBTQ War Refugees Finally Feel Safe

STUCK – They fled for safety, only to live in limbo.

Via Huffington Post – “As the gateway to Europe, Turkey has more migrants cross its border than any other country in the world. Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, Turkey has been flooded with millions more refugees. With Turkey’s system overwhelmed, migrants from countries other than Syria have little chance of being resettled anytime soon.”

“This project is about those millions of others — asylum seekers and migrants from places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and throughout Africa — who have fled war and repression, but are often caught in limbo.”

“STUCK follows their journeys through Turkey’s two-tiered immigration process, and reveals the complex system faced by non-Syrians as they try to start new lives.”

Click here to see the whole story at Huffington Post and explore eight individual stories in the project, each on a different aspect of the asylum system in Turkey.

Continue reading STUCK – They fled for safety, only to live in limbo.

Mass Deportations of Afghans from Turkey: Thousands of migrants sent back in a deportation drive

Via Afghanistan Analysts – In a recent television appearance, the Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, said that 15,000 Afghans have been sent back home from Turkey. While it is likely that this number has been exaggerated, there is no doubt that in April and May of 2018, thousands of Afghan migrants were sent back on charter flights from Turkey to Kabul. This is the Turkish government’s response after a 400 per cent increase in arrivals of Afghan migrants to Turkey during the first quarter of 2018. In early April of this year, the first charter flight carrying Afghans back to Kabul flew out of Erzurum, a city in eastern Anatolia that has become the centre of these returns. AAN’s guest author Amy Pitonak visited Erzurum to find out first-hand about the situation for Afghans there.

Aşkale Removal Centre in Erzurum. Photo: Amy Pitonak

Continue reading Mass Deportations of Afghans from Turkey: Thousands of migrants sent back in a deportation drive

Turkey’s Syrian refugees hot-topic issue in upcoming election

Via AlJazeera – As the Turkish economy slows down and people are getting ready to elect new leadership, the presence of millions of Syrian refugees living in the country returns to the fore.

Today marks World Refugee Day, when the plight of migrants is highlighted. More than 16 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the last year.

Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country, and the upcoming election has highlighted the issue of more than four million Syrian refugees in the country. They have generally been welcomed, but as the economy slows, they fear they will bear the fallout.

Click here to see the video-report from Gaziantep

30,000 Syrians eligible to vote in Turkish elections: PM

Via Hurriyet Daily News – Some 30,000 Syrians are eligible to vote in the June 24 elections in Turkey. Speaking to journalists in the western province of İzmir, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced “around 30,000 Syrians have received Turkish citizenship so far.”

“They have the right to vote but I do not know how many of them will use that right. They are our guests and they will return to their country,” the prime minister said. He stressed that the Syrians in Turkey “must obey the Turkish law.” “If they do not, then we will take them by their hand back to where they came from,” said Yıldırım.

Continue reading 30,000 Syrians eligible to vote in Turkish elections: PM