Harek Act’s Weekly News Digest 26/02/2019

We introduce you to our new weekly news digest on migration, asylum and border issues primarily in Turkey as well as on the general European context as far as it is connected to Turkey.

Anti-Migrant Violence and Discrimination///Exploitation///Border Region///Broader Discourse///Numbers///Further Information

Anti-migrant violence and discrimination

  • After mass attacks against the Syrian community in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul on the 9 February, reported here, the anti-Syrian attacks are continuing. Four masked individuals raided into the house of a Syrian family in Sultangazi, Istanbul. Among seven people living in the house, one was severely injured after being shot in the head.
  • Seven Syrian families living in the Artuklu neighborhood of Mardin were threatened with letters posted at their doors, three of which also had a bullet placed next to them, Evrensel reports. The letters read: “Respectful landlord, if you don’t leave the house in 10 days, a bomb attack will be organized. This is your first warning, the second one will hurt someone. We don’t want you in this neighborhood.”
  • A social media campaign has been launched against discrimination, racism and violence towards migrant women and LGBTI, encouraging the raising of voices when witnessing any violation of human rights, sexual harassment or discrimination against migrant women and LGBTI. The hashtag being used is #sessizkalma (Don’t Stay Silent).
  • A Bianet report indicates that the majority of people within Turkey believe that refugees are discriminated. Bianet also reported about a prevalent unwillingness to rent out houses to LGBTIs and migrants. The report refers to The Association for Monitoring Equal Rights (AMER), which has released its “Report on Perception of Discrimination in Turkey”.


  • DW reports about the situation of Afghans in Turkey, stating that with an estimated population of 100,000, Afghans are at the top of the irregular migrant population in Turkey and often face exploitation in daily jobs with payments of 70-90 TL (11.60-14.90€). Further information about the situation of Afghans in Turkey can be found here.
  • The International Crisis Group published a report about mitigating risks for Syrian refugee youth in the Southeast of Turkey. It summarizes that “a generation of young Syrians in Turkey is not receiving the support it needs to integrate successfully into Turkish society. Exposure to discrimination and exploitation, unaddressed psycho-social trauma, and lagging support for skill acquisition and job training further increase this group’s vulnerability.”

Border Region

  • A total of 11 bodies have been found in several locations of Edirne province alongside the Turkish-Greek border since December, according to Gendarmerie reports. The bodies are thought to be those of irregular migrants who froze to death while attempting to cross the border.
  • On 19 February a nine year old girl drowned when a boat carrying fifty-two migrants capsized off the coast of the island of Lesvos. Those on board were trying to reach Greece in order to seek asylum in Europe.
  • IHD has released its 2018 Report on the Rights Violations Against Refugees in the Aegean Region. According to the report, 21,321 rights violations occurred against refugees in the region.
  • The Council of Europe has strongly criticized the camp conditions in the Aegean as well as in other parts of Greece, in particular the Fylakio camp close to the Turkish border which has been set up with support of the EU. Summarizing the conditions in those camps, the Council describes them as “inhuman and degrading”.
  • The Guardian has reported from Samos, “likened [it] to a ‘new Lesbos'”. “Greek authorities are scrambling to house almost 4,000 people crammed into an overflowing migrant camp in Samos, as aid groups warn of a “humanitarian disaster” on one of Europe’s forgotten frontlines”.
  • Deportation Monitoring Aegean is reporting about the ongoing criminalization of Deportation Monitoring by the authorities. They detail the arrests of activists, Police Violence and other intimidations. At the same time, they note that after three years “there is hardly any public interest in the situation for refugees and migrants affected by detention and deportation under the EU-Turkey statement.”
  • Following 11 months of unjust detention, the Moria 8 have finally been declared innocent by the High Court of Chios. More information about the scandalous detention of the eight men from Syria and Iraq is available from Deportation Monitoring Aegean.


  • We recently commented on the contradictory newly published numbers of irregular migrants held across the country, published by Turkey’s State Run Agency Anadolu.  
  • This week the European border agency Frontex states that illegal migration into EU has hit a 5-year low.
  • Simultaneously there is reported to be a continuing strong rise of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Greece and Germany.

Broader discourse

  • Having reported about the discourse on a new refugee compact for Turkey, Refugees Deeply has also taken up the issue.  With reference to the example of Turkey, Gerasimos Tsourapas discusses the trend towards compacts and the related big trade-offs when western states appear less willing to receive refugee populations and “prefer to outsource the management of forced displacement to the global south”. He later clarifies that ” Provision of economic incentives to host states of first asylum in exchange for their continuing to host refugees sets the stage for the creation of ‘refugee rentier states’”.

Further information

  • Apparently Iranian refugees have started a petition to publicize and ask support over the changing conditions in the asylum procedure after the UNHCR handed over the asylum procedures in Turkey to the state authority DGMM. Following this the unknown petitioners state that many people (even though having already been accepted by the UNHCR) “were [now] rejected outright; many others were ordered to leave, meaning they should leave Turkey within a certain period of time, otherwise their cases would enter the attritional process of review in Turkish courts. Given all this, an atmosphere of fear and apprehension has overwhelmed the Iranian refugee community in Turkey. Many, desperately and under the pressure of the Immigration Office, are returning to Iran or leaving Turkey for other destinations.”
  • As the European Union is opposing the plans of the Turkish government to enforce a so-called buffer zone in Syria, the Turkish government is considering abandoning the 2016 EU-Turkey Deal and opening its borders to the EU, according to Ahval and Hürriyet reports.
  • The founders of ASEM association (Solidarity and Support Association for Migrants), which provides free healthcare mainly for African and undocumented migrants, Lerzan Caner and Dr. Sekouba Conde, have both been under arrest since October 2017. Lerzan Caner is under arrest and imprisonment on charges related to terrorism, while her husband Dr. Sekouba with Guinean origin was first detained in the Removal center of Izmir, then freed and afterwards detained again in a Removal center in Aydın. Lerzan Caner sent a letter to Bianet on 10 February 2019, informing them that she hasn’t been able to receive letters from Dr. Sekouba recently.