HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 10/06/2019

3rd – 9th June

Closure of Camps at the Syrian Border | Anti-Syrian Sentiments | Tuberculosis Outbreak in a Camp near the Iranian-Armenian Border | Turkey grants residence permits to members of Turkic communities | Story on the Harmandalı Removal Center around Izmir | On Turkishness in Germany | EU published annual report on Turkey

News & Reports

Closure of Camps at the Syrian Border

Throughout our most recent news digests we have been reporting on the ongoing closure of refugee camps on the Turkish border with Syria. Al-Monitor has provided the latest numbers in an article on why Turkey is closing down the camps: Several camps in Gaziantep, Adiyaman and Kilis have already been closed, while Turkey’s largest camp, located in Suruç, is supposed to close on June 23. Around 30,000 Syrian refugees have left the camp so far since April. Of the total 21 camps, which hosted approximately 300,000 Syrians, only 13 camps are left open, accommodating around 120,000 refugees at the moment.

Anti-Syrian Sentiments

A team of researchers recently conducted a study in Şanlıurfa, which hosts around 440,000 Syrians, on the locals’ perception of Syrian refugees. To quote some findings:

  • 90 percent of respondents think that Syrians will not return to their homeland, even if the civil war ends.
  • Around 80 percent see Syrians as a security risk, while 60-70 percent say that Syrians face discrimination, racism and insecure living conditions.
  • Around 80 percent of the respondents have negative attitudes towards the financial assistance which they believe is provided to Syrians and 64 percent think that Syrians don’t contribute to the economy, while 61 percent oppose Syrians being granted work permits.

The Municipality of Mudanya, a small touristic village at the Sea of Marmara close to Bursa, has banned Syrians from the beaches and the seaside of the village, arguing that inhabitants were being annoyed by Syrians. This development fits to the overall anti-Syrian discourse in the public and media. To name another example, Cumhüriyet newspaper reported on a homicide case of an Afghan by an Uzbehk and allegedly Syrian national in a very problematic language and linked the case to a totally different case in which a Syrian was arrested for allegedly saying “I’ll chop his head” and was later deported to Syria on the 31st of May. The arrested man though said that, “I was walking and I saw a man beating a woman, so I went there and separated them and started a fight with the man. At that very moment a camera approached me and reports asked what had happened. I said: ‘He is beating the woman. I’ll chop his head.’ They distorted what I said.” These media reports lead to reaction on social media, such as, “We can’t walk around in our own neighborhoods anymore. These guys where telling they’ll chop heads and they did.”

Tuberculosis Outbreak in a Camp near the Iranian-Armenian Border

Gazete Duvar, relying on information provided by the journalist İrfan Uçar, is reporting that at least 170 people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis in a Detention Center in Iğdır. The Director of Iğdır Migration Management, Muhlis Lordoğlu couldn’t be reached on the matter. The tent camp hosts 700-800 refugees mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who normally stay around 1-2 month before being transferred to Ankara. Living conditions are unhealthy, the people face dirty facilities, malnutrition and the provided ‘bathroom’ is insufficient for the high number of people in the camp.

Turkey grants residence permits to members of Turkic communities

According to Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey has granted around 90,000 residence permits and 58,000 long-term residence permits to members of Turkic communities from Turkmenistan, Bulgaria, China, Greece, Iraq and Afghanistan. “Our approach to granting citizenship is the same. You don’t need to worry. I want you to know that we will use every chance in favor of you to provide that you will reach tomorrow as citizens of the Republic of Turkey, brotherly and sisterly,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said.

Other News

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry 27,536 undocumented migrants and 561 human smuggling suspects were detained across Turkey in May 2019.

People & Stories

Story on the Harmandalı Removal Center around Izmir

We have previously reported about the conditions in the Harmandalı Removal Center in two of our digests in May: The Lawyers of the Izmir Bar Association had recently given a statement calling on authorities to take responsibility in providing protection to refugees held in the center. The same group of lawyer were recently been locked in the camp for 2 hours. The German-Turkish online-newspaper Taz Gazete has now published a story on Harmandalı based on the personal experiences of an Afghan migrant who agreed to ‘voluntarily’ return to Afghanistan after several month in Harmandalı Detention Center. The story is available in Turkish and German.


On Turkishness in Germany

Gülay Türkmen, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Göttingen’s Department of Sociology, has published an article on the Changing Face of Turkish Immigration to Germany with the title ‘But you don’t look Turkish’. Based on her personal experiences as a Turkish migrant in Germany, she conducted a few interviews with other Turkish migrants. “

“I can easily say “but you don’t look Turkish” is not just about ethnicity or national identity. It is about socio-economic status. It is about religion. It is about rural/urban background. Moreover, it is not only a question of German perceptions of Turkish people. It also reflects the self-perception of Turkish people and the fault lines that have historically divided the heterogeneous Turkish society.”

EU published annual report on Turkey

The European Union published its annual report on Turkey on the state of Turkeys accession to the EU:

“The General Affairs Council conclusions of June 2018 stated that under the currently prevailing circumstances, Turkey’s accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill, no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernisation of the Customs Union can be currently foreseen. The Turkish government’s repeated commitment to the objective of EU accession has not been matched by corresponding measures and reforms since then, and the EU’s serious concerns on continued negative developments in rule of law, fundamental rights and the Judiciary have not been addressed.”

Despite these clear words, it is even more outrageous that the EU is still sticking to the EU-Turkey agreement. The report does not include a chapter on migration or the integration of migrants and refugees, although you can find information on irregular migration and asylum from page 45 onwards. In the introduction, the authors state that,

“The March 2016 EU-Turkey Statement continues to deliver results, with both parties committed to its effective implementation. Turkey sustained its outstanding efforts to host more than 3.6 million registered refugees from Syria and around registered 370,000 refugees from other countries, which is the largest refugee community in the world. Turkey and the EU further built on the fruitful cooperation under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. By May 2019, out of EUR 6 billion mobilized by the EU, more than 80 projects had been launched and more than EUR 2.2 billion has been disbursed.”

This again fails to mention that in November last year the European Court of Auditors reported that they were unable to verify how over 1 billion Euro of that budget had been spend and further stated that a large amount has been wasted due to a lack of efficiency and effectiveness.