HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 02/04/2019

25th – 31st March 2019

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New Report on Migrant Workers | 5 Afghans died in fire in Ankara | 6 people died in shipwrecks in the Aegean | Election campaigns fuel Racist Discourses | New Report on Syrians Women’s perspectives on Life in Turkey


Ankara based ISIG (Health and Safety Labour Watch, Turkey) have released their report on refugee workers in Ankara. The turkish-language report finds that wages for migrant workers begin from 200 TL weekly but vary according to age and working experience. Child labourers earn around 20 TL per day in gathering recycling materials and up to 250 TL per week in furniture workshops. After five Syrian workers died in a fire in January, their employer offered 30,000 TL to their families in compensation, which they did not accept. The families, who have to live off around 300 TL per week since losing their breadwinners, have started legal procedures against the employer. Just last week again, 5 Afghan workers died when the abandoned building in an industrial area they were living in outside of Ankara, caught fire. They had been collecting paper and other garbage for around 50 TL a day, working for around 16-17 hours for 7 days of the week. We hope to follow up on this topic further on HarekAct.

Last week two shipwrecks occurred in the Aegean Sea. On Thursday 36 people were rescued after their boat crashed into the rocky coast of Chios and passengers fell into the water. Two men, a 21-year-old from Yemen and a 25-year-old Palestinian, are still missing and the chances of finding them alive are very low. Earlier last week, three women and a child died in a shipwreck off of Ayvacık. 11 other migrants, from Iran and Afghanistan were rescued and brought back to Turkey.

During their election campaigns for the local elections which took place on 31 March, AKP politicians Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Binali Yıldırım both stressed their pledge to resettle Syrians in Syria, particularly in the border areas. “There is peace in 65 percent of Syria already. We have cleared the terrorist zones at our border and already 350,000 Syrians have been able to return. Once we clear the area of the YPG and PYD, an extensions of the PKK, more people can leave and settle there”, Yıldırım said in an interview with CNN Türk. However, Yıldırım has lost the election as Mayor of Istanbul. Erdoğan was even more outspoken with his words, “As the first objective after the elections, we will solve the Syrian problem.” These statements have created fear that the situation for refugees in Turkey will further deteriorate and that racism will increase, fueled by politicians from the ruling parties.


NBC recently published an article on the various forms of daily racism that Syrians are facing in Turkey. This reports on how many Syrians are trying to hide their national identity in order to avoid racist encounters.

“He came to me and said: ‘Hey, what are you doing here? Go back and fight in Syria,’” recalled Maktabi, 27. He has heard such sentiments so often, from taxi drivers and in stores, that Maktabi now avoids revealing his nationality.”

The article also includes opinions on the matter from the nationalist IYI party, as well as from CHP and AKP.


Earlier this month, Şenay Özden and Oula Ramadan published a report on Syrian Women’s perspectives on Life in Turkey (in English and Turkish). “The report sheds light on the challenges Syrian women face in Turkey and how they have evolved over time, with an emphasis on their knowledge of and access to rights and means of civic engagement, and the role of Turkish and Syrian organizations in facilitating this access, as well as the general nature of their interventions with Syrian women. It also explores the evolving dynamics between the Syrian refugee and Turkish host communities from the perspective of Syrian women.” The report highlights the relevance of promoting a rights-based approach to migrant and refugee issues, an absence of which the authors assess as being one of the reasons for growing racist tendencies in Turkey.