Spiegel Online – Turkey, which has taken in almost 3 million Syrian refugees in recent years, has sealed off its borders in the wake of the spring 2016 refugee deal with the European Union. Syrians who seek to enter Turkey via airplane or ship from a third country, such as Lebanon or Jordan, require a visa, but officials only rarely issue them. And the overland route is blocked.
The German government claims that the Turkey deal stemmed the refugee crisis. In truth, though, the crisis has just been diverted. The wall on the German border that Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted to avoid at all costs has been erected instead by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his country’s border with Syria: A three-meter (nearly 10 feet) tall cement barricade that extends for hundreds of kilometers and prevents refugees from entering the country. People may no longer be drowning in the Aegean Sea, where the number of boats embarking from the Turkish coast to the Greek islands dropped significantly as a result of the deal. Instead they are dying at the Turkish-Syrian border.
Pro Asyl – Today the Greek Council of State is hearing a complaint of crucial importance for the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal. The complaint is raised against the Greek government for replacing the Asylum Appeals Committees with the new »Independent Appeals Committees«. Refugee rights lawyers believe this was an illegal political intervention by the Government in order to protect and promote a policy related to the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement.
Deutsche Welle – One day after the European Parliament voted in favor of freezing EU membership talks with Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey could open its borders and allow migrants to leave for Europe if pushed by the European Union.
“If you go any further, these border gates will be opened,” he said in Istanbul. “Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats. It wouldn’t matter if all of you approved the [European Parliament] vote.”
Human Rights Watch – The EU-Turkey deal commits Turkey to accept the return of all asylum seekers who travelled through Turkey in exchange for billions of Euros in aid, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, and revived negotiations for Turkish accession to the EU. The €3 billion funding is designated for projects to improve the lives of refugees as well as of host communities in Turkey. The deal also provides for the resettlement of one other Syrian refugee from Turkey for each Syrian returned to Turkey under the deal.
In a progress report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, published on September 28, the European Commission claimed that the deal is delivering results: arrivals from Turkey to Greece across the Aegean are down, millions of Euros have been disbursed to improve access to education and healthcare in Turkey, and returns and resettlement have been undertaken. Indeed, the commission and leaders of some member states cite the EU-Turkey deal as a model for agreements with other major transit countries.
Al Jazeera – Haji, together with his wife and four young children, was illegally returned from Greece to Turkey last month. Police told them they would be transferred to Athens and they were escorted to the airport by a group of officers from the EU border agency, Frontex. They boarded a plane but instead of flying to Athens, two hours later they touched down in Adana, southern Turkey. “When I saw the Turkish flag at the airport my dreams were shattered,” Haji told me.
As Haji and his family are stranded in Turkey, a further 62,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece, living in a state of constant fear and uncertainty. This is the result of the EU-Turkey migration deal and the failure of European leaders to relocate the promised numbers of refugees from Greece.
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
Hurriyet Daily News – Migrants in a deportation center in the central Kumkapı district of Istanbul have escaped from the building as they set the building on fire. Police have opened warning fire in order to prevent some 50 migrants from escaping, but couldn’t stop them.
Hurriyet Daily News – Six people were killed and another three went missing on Nov. 18 when a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Turkey’s Didim in the Aegean province of Aydın, Doğan News Agency has reported. The fiber boat, carrying 13 Syrian migrants bound for Greek islands, reportedly capsized off the Turkish coast due to bad weather conditions.
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!