HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 30/04/2019

25th – 30th April 2019

Harassment, sexual assault or violent threats towards LGBTI and women refugees across Turkey | Crossing to EU through Cyprus | Child abuse case sparks feelings of insecurity in multi-ethnic neighborhood | Syrian seasonal workers exploited between multinational companies and Turkish middlemen | On exile but with the spirit of “Arab spring” in Istanbul | Arbitrary procedure of detention on arrival to Lesvos


LGBTI refugees are calling on the UK Home Office to take immediate steps, as they continue to live in fear of homophobic violence in Turkey: Fifteen LGBT Syrian refugees are launching a legal challenge against the UK Home Office claiming they have been abandoned to a life of danger in Turkey, despite promises of being quickly brought to safety in the UK. Although they were accepted to a refugee resettlement scheme by the Home Office, they have been waiting for more than two years to be resettled, and are forced to live in hiding as a result. See more – 15.04.2019

Policeman’s Sentence for Sexually Assaulting an Uzbek Woman Reduced due to ‘Good Behavior’: For sexually assaulting a migrant woman from Uzbekistan in a police car in October 2018, the police officer Ş.Ş has been sentenced to 18 years, yet the sentence was reduced to 15 considering the “stance and behavior of the defendant in the hearings”. Four other officers were also under trial for the incident. The court acquitted one of them, and the other three have been sentenced to 7 months and 15 days in prison for “not reporting an offense” as public officers. See more – 26.04.2019

Land-crossings to EU through Cyprus: Cypriot authorities said on Tuesday that they had found 37 migrants trying to cross the border from the Turkish-controlled northern part of the Mediterranean island into the Greek southern part. In the island, around 150 asylum seekers protested against poor job prospects and exploitation earlier this month. See more – 23.04.2019


‘No One is Safe’ in Kanarya, A Neighborhood of Kurds, Turks and ‘foreigners’: The people of Kanarya neighborhood in Istanbul are angered and concerned after a man sexually assaulted a five-year-old child, while Syrians say they are afraid of even going outside. In the poor neighborhood, different migrant communities are living and working side-by-side. However, the horrendous offence against the child has recently provoked hateful and insecure sentiments towards ‘foreigners’. See more

Violence and Harassment Follow Afghan Women to Turkey: Fariba Nawa reports on insecure conditions in the satellite cities of Turkey for women who have fled Afghanistan as a result of gender-related persecution: “These Afghan girls and women, on the run from domestic violence, death threats, sexual assault, forced marriage, and a 40-year war, are by themselves—some for the first time in their lives” See more

Syrian Refugees Toil on Turkey’s Hazelnut Farms: NY Times reports on the farms that produce 70 percent of the hazelnuts for the world’s richest chocolate companies, in where Syrian seasonal workers, families and children, are being exploited with heavily precarious conditions. The system of servitude is maintained by Turkish middlemen, who pay the labourers just enough to cover their food and rent until the end-of-harvest, and often vanish without paying the full wage. Today around 200,000 of Turkey’s workforce in agriculture are Syrian refugees. See more

Arab Exiles “feel at home in Istanbul”: As the Arab Spring uprisings have been trampled by resurgent dictators or devolved into brutal civil wars, Istanbul has emerged as the region’s capital for many of the Arab politicians, activists, rebels and journalists who tried to push history in a different direction in the countries where they were born and stalled, NY Times reports. In Istanbul, today there are ex-combatants, as well as activists and even parliamentarians from a variety of countries such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. “The most important thing is to keep the Arab Spring alive and to keep fighting for freedom and democracy,” says Tawakkol Karman, who won a Nobel-prize for her role in Yemen uprising. See more


Arbitrary Detention on Arrival to Lesvos Island: Activists of Deportation Monitoring Aegean have criticized the ongoing procedure of arrests upon arrival to Lesvos, mainly from Turkey. Based on the idea of dividing ‘legitimate refugees’ and ‘illegitimate economic migrants’ the procedure mainly works to detain single men of any nationality with an asylum acceptance rate lower than 25 percent. The affects of the procedure on human life is described as grave: “While no one deserves to be detained, independently from being considered as a person with ‘strong’ or ‘weak asylum claim’ or vulnerable or not vulnerable, this highlights another inconsistency in the procedure, strongly affecting the lives of individualsSee more