Category Archives: In Depth

The EU – Turkey Deal One Year On: The Rise of Walls of Shame

ECRE op-ed by Cavidan Soykan on year after the EU-Turkey Deal. She is a member of Mülteci-Der and an independent researcher working on the Turkish asylum system

This week marks the anniversary of the controversial EU–Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016. The Statement placed responsibility for halting irregular crossings and deaths in the Aegean Sea in the hands of two countries: Greece and Turkey.

The Statement is a prime example of externalization policy, an attempt to harden the borders of the EU against unwanted migration through readmission agreements and prevention of access to asylum in Europe. However, the fear generated in Greece and Turkey that their territory would become a buffer zone for asylum seekers and refugees who failed to reach other European countries has led them to imitate the same restrictive strategies. Continue reading The EU – Turkey Deal One Year On: The Rise of Walls of Shame

Bilmek İstiyoruz! // We Want to Know!

Göçmen Dayanışma Ağı – Recently, we hear often that as a result of police operations in certain district, people of “foreign origin” are “caught”, detained, and sent to camps or detention center. We only get the news that they will be deported, but there is no information on what were they accused of actually. In Istanbul, sometimes police and municipal police teams pick up migrants (mostly children) accused of getting involved in begging, and send them to Pendik Kızılay Dr. Kemal Demir Refugee Camp. At the target of all these operations, there are undocumented migrants, people of certain nationalities, or those who are accused of a suspicion of “terror” or other crimes. No information is made public other than the number (and sometimes nationalities) of people arrested. For instance, according to some news published on 1st of February it was declared that “203 people of foreign origin were detained”, and that they will be sent to General Directorate of Migration Management and deported. However, there was nothing else made public, but that people who were detained were processed according to “violation of document” and that such inspections will further continue in the following days. Continue reading Bilmek İstiyoruz! // We Want to Know!

#CrossingNoMore revisited – new shortfilm on the protest

In September 2015, thousands of refugees gathered in a number of cities in Turkey, such as Istanbul, EdirneTheir goal was to cross over the Turkish borders all together and reach Europe. The scale of the march in Turkey was absolutely unprecedented. People carried banners and signs addressing the European Union, and some signs even referred personally to Germany’s chancelor Angela Merkel.

In a press release, the demonstrators referred to themselves as migrants who were fighting for their rights. Many of them marched together with their whole families but carried only some bags or just a backpack. Although the majority were from Syria, other nationalities were present too. Some had lived in Turkey for years, while others had e.g. just come from Lebanon or Jordan. The people who camped in parks or at the highway waited for Europe to open its borders. This never happened. The Turkish police pushed migrants to go to Ankara, Istanbul or Izmir and arrested hundreds of them.

Migrant Solidarity Network on the kumkapı migrant riot

Göçmen Dayanışma Ağı (Migrant Solidarity Network) – This Saturday, on November 19th, 123 migrants managed to escape the Kumkapı deportation center in Istanbul, after starting a fire in their cells. While the fire brigades were working to extinguish the fire, the migrants broke through the gate of the courtyard and runaway despite the policemen shooting in the air. The police forces brought 20 of them back while searching the neighborhood. Continue reading Migrant Solidarity Network on the kumkapı migrant riot

Turkey is on its way towards a dictatorship – the German government must act now!

Kritnet, a network of critical migration researchers and activists and one of the founding groups of HarekAct, published a statement on the recent developments in Turkey and Germany’s responsiblity. You can read the full text in English here on our blog. For the German version click here.

Turkey is facing a drastic slide to an authoritarian regime that increasingly disregards democratic principles: using the state of exception imposed after the attempted military coup, the government under president Erdoǧan silences the political opposition and shuts down one critical media outlet after another as well as hundreds of Non-governmental organizations. Freedom of expression, freedom of press and the pluralistic society are at extreme risk. In view of these developments, the Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies (kritnet) urges the German government to take concrete action to support and protect the democratic forces in Turkey and those who are already in exile. Continue reading Turkey is on its way towards a dictatorship – the German government must act now!

Refugees as Peons in Foreign Policy: Turkey, the EU and Reflections of Lasker and Nimzowitsch

Article by Nicolas Parent originally published for IN/WORDS MAGAZINE & PRESS

New York, 1927 – Edward Lasker and Aron Nimzowitsch, two of the greatest minds in chess at the time, went head to head in an off-hand game. At that time, smoking was almost synergetic with chess playing. Nimzowitsch, however, had a severe allergy to smoke and records show that he often requested tournament directors and ombudsmen to enforce a no smoking rule during game play. Lasker, on the other hand, was notorious for his strategy of ‘smoking out’ his opponents, typically burning cheap cigars with an unbearably foul scent. Before this specific match, Lasker agreed not to smoke whilst playing against Nimzowitsch. However, mid-game, Lasker pulled out a cigar and laid it on the table. Nimzowitsch furiously acalled upon the tournament director to intervene, but this was to no avail as Lasker had yet to light the cigar. Dissatisfied, Nimzowitsch responded by saying “(…) but he is threatening to smoke, and as an old player you must know that the threat is stronger than the execution” (Winter, 2015).

Albeit the comical exchange, a similar narrative has developed in respect to what European political circles and newspapers have called a ‘migration crisis’. Continue reading Refugees as Peons in Foreign Policy: Turkey, the EU and Reflections of Lasker and Nimzowitsch

Notes from the Back-Alleys of a Turkish Border City

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Syrian woman in front of a billboard reading “We are the nation! We shall not allow the wasting of Turkey by the coup and terror”

The Locals, the Syrians and the 15 July Coup Attempt in Gaziantep

By H. Pınar Şenoğuz

Turkish politics is full of surprises with intriguing conclusions – or perhaps we cannot talk about endings yet – and diverse social impact among its adherents. The 15 July coup attempt and the ‘resistance of Turkish people’ hailed by the national media, for instance, was such an extraordinary event as the anthropologist Lisa Malkki would coin (Malkki, 1997). Continue reading Notes from the Back-Alleys of a Turkish Border City

Impressions from the no border camp in Thessaloniki

This year’s no border camp [1] took place in Thessaloniki from 15th to 24th of July. The camp was organized as a big transnational meeting of anarchists and no border activists to discuss and network but also to demonstrate and struggle together against the European border regime. In northern Greece the face of Fortress Europe becomes particularly visible.

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Start of the demonstration towards the Turkish consulate at the Kamara square in Thessaloniki (credit to Beyond Europe)

Continue reading Impressions from the no border camp in Thessaloniki

Presenting OHRFMT: Observatory for Human Rights and Forced Migrants in Turkey

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OHRFMT’s map about events in Turkey relating to human rights and forced migrants

Following the EU-Turkey statement in mid-March 2016, and the first implementations of the EU-Turkey deal on April 4th, the fate of migrants in both Turkey and the EU seemed increasingly under a vail uncertainty. As many INGO’s, institutions and local groups working in migration hotspots around Turkey condemed the deal, and questioned its legitimacy and legality, a need to collect information concerning arrivals from the EU, unlawful detention, possible breaches of human rights and much more became apparent. As a response to this need, the Observatory for Human Rights and Forced Migrants in Turkey – OHRFMT – was founded. Continue reading Presenting OHRFMT: Observatory for Human Rights and Forced Migrants in Turkey

European restabilization attempts of the external borders and their consequences

Vial, Former Hotspot, now detention camp, April 2016

A report from the contested borders in the Aegean region

By Sabine Hess and Gerda Heck, June 2016

[updated in September 2016]

After months of massive refugee movements that have breathtakingly struggled their way towards Northern Europe last year, European Union member states have started to launch diverse actions and measurements to regain control. A coalition of Eastern European states led by Austria proclaimed the closing of the Balkan route in March this year that led to massive national re-bordering activities and the blatant construction of  fences. Continue reading European restabilization attempts of the external borders and their consequences