HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 17/06/2019

10th – 16th June

photo credit: Deportation Monitoring Aegean

Seven drown in migrant boat sinking off coast of Lesvos | Five migrant workers die due to fire outbreak in textile factory | Turkey deports asylum-seeker whose life is feared to be in danger | Beach ban on Syrians during Ramadan break | Allegations against another NGO working with migrants and refugees in Turkey | Critical Perspectives on EU-Turkey Deal and the myths around it


Seven drown in migrant boat sinking off coast of Lesvos : Ekathimerini reported last Tuesday on migrants drowning while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesvos from Turkey’s shores. The boat was reportedly carrying more than 60 people when it sank. – 11.06.2019

Five migrant workers die due to fire outbreak in textile factory: The fire took place in Akpınar Textile’s factory in Çayırova district of Kocaeli, leaving 5 dead, 3 of whom were Syrian, and 1 Afghan. Health and Safety Labour Watch Turkey (ISIG) reported that many of the factories had migrant workers to work particularly during the 10-day Ramadan break, when workers with Turkish origin are officially on leave. Migrant workers also had to stay in the factory during that period. – 11.06.2019

Turkey deports asylum-seeker whose life is feared to be in danger: Mohamed Abdelhafiz Ahmed Hussein, who was sentenced to death by the Sisi regime was arrested on his arrival to an airport in Turkey and deported to Egypt last January. His wife, who is living in Istanbul said that she has not been able to hear from her husband for 55 days and fears that he may have lost his mental health as a result of torture in prison. (see in Turkish or in English) – 05.06.2019

Beach ban on Syrians: Overcrowding in most of the touristic places of Turkey due to the 10-days Ramadan break led to an outbreak of intolerance and xenophobia against Syrians, as they were blamed with breaking the peace in public beaches. Mudanya Municipality‘s racist and arbitrary sanction against Syrians by banning them from using public beaches found wide repercussions in public discourse and social media. Subsequently the same motion was brought to the council of the Gazipaşa municipality of Antalya provincial district. However after a public backlash, the attempt to ban Syrians from the beach was vetoed by the mayor from the same party, whose members had also asked for it (see, in Turkish or in English). – 11.06.2019

Allegations against another NGO working with migrants and refugees in Turkey: Reports have been published claiming that the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) has been accused of being “in adhesion to terror organizations and people in missionary or espionage activity” by the Security General Directorate of Turkey. The NGO is one of the oldest and largest working in the field of refugee relief. It is an implementing partner of the UNHCR and it was even working in collaboration with General Directorate of Migration Management (under the Interior Ministry) with a protocol signed in 2017. The organization published a statement condemning “the efforts to bring them under suspicion without any evidence”


EU-Turkey Deal and the myths around it:

Lawyers from Refugee Legal Support Athens have reflected on figures related to the implementation of EU-Turkey deal and claim that the statement has evaded judicial scrutiny and has come at the cost of an ongoing crisis on the islands. They mention the case opened at the ECHR, which argues that Turkey cannot be lawfully characterized as a “safe third country” , as an attempt to extinguish the deal. Although dysfunctional, the deal currently leaves refugees without status. So they call for a decision:
“If the EU-Turkey deal has “worked”, then the emergency is over and the temporary provisions need no longer apply. If it has failed, then admissibility decisions against Syrians should end. There needs to be a sincere debate about creating a legal regime that prioritises protection inside the EU’s borders. “

Deportation Monitoring Aegean‘s report on Harmandali Removal Center of Turkey as debunks the ‘safe third country’ assumption on Turkey that the EU-Turkey deal relies on. It is argued that the EU is ignoring the consequences of their policies since migrants deported to Turkey can barely apply for protection, let alone being granted it. In addition to the lack of accountability, the deportation policy is also leading to human rights deprivations with the conditions and practices present in the removal center:
“there have been several cases in which migrants signed voluntary return declarations in Turkish, because they were misled to believe it was a document needed to receive food in the Removal Centres. According to the interviewees, some migrants were simply forced to sign the declarations. Alternatively, prison guards signed the return declaration without consent on behalf of the detainee – a clear case of refoulement.”