HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 08/07/2019

2nd-8th of July

Governorship of Istanbul aim to limit Arabic Signs | Interior Minister Vows Increased Control over Syrians and Irregular Migrants | Spotlight on Anti-Syrian discourse in Istanbul and Turkey | Public Perception on Refugees based on Political Affiliation | Why does the Istanbul Convention Matter for Refugee Women and Girls?

Governorship of Istanbul aim to limit Arabic Signs:
Turkish authorities inspected 730 places of business with Arabic shop signs in Istanbul’s three districts between 15 June and 1 July. The governor’s office stated that the inspections will continue to include all of Istanbul’s 39 districts, and they’re aiming to ensure that signs have 75 percent of their content in Turkish and 25 percent in other languages within a short period of time ( see more in Turkish, in English) – 03.07.2019

Interior Minister Vows Increased Control over Syrians and Irregular Migrants:
A Statement given by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu was released to the press following the Migration Evaluation Meeting organized by the Directorate General of Migration Management last Saturday. Information is not available on the details of the meeting apart from Soylu’s speech, which repeated the existing conditions enforcing immobility over both Syrians and irregular migrants. Coming after another wave of hateful public discourse in Istanbul, the minister’s speech might appeal to the constituency that had been lost by ruling AKP. Soylu emphasised that Syrians will not be registered in Istanbul except for exceptional cases (referring to what has already been the case since February 2018). He directly addressed employers and warned them that migrants working irregularly and spending the night in the factory is unacceptable as it is both a risk for public order and for migrants, who are in danger of paying for it with their lives (in the case of a fire outbreak): “Nobody will be allowed to go around without any official registration. Employing irregular migrants, and irregular street-vending will not be allowed. Moreover, measures will be taken to stop ghettoisation”. Finally he added that the rate of criminalization among Syrians is less than the half the rate for Turkish citizens. (see more in Turkish, in English) – 06.07.2019


Spotlight on Anti-Syrian discourse in Istanbul and Turkey

The debates on the previous hatred attacks against Syrians both in Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district and on social media continued this week. Reporters from Middle East Eye visited Küçükçekmece district last Monday and spoke with Syrian shop-keepers. A restaurant manager said: “We were working as usual. But on Saturday night, after 10.30 pm, about 70 people attacked my place. Everything happened so quickly. I saw stones and I believe I saw guns too. I closed the shutters after two of my customers got slightly hurt.” The report also draws a link between the horrible attack and the election results in Istanbul, as Imamoğlu, the recently elected mayor has pronounced the “Syrian issue” as one of the most urgent problems of the city and made some controversial remarks on the use of Arabic lettering in the city.

While the tension against Syrians and xenophobic discourse is gaining ever more visibility, the response or position of the target group remains largely ignored. But reporters from Evrensel covered the opinions of locals and Syrians in the district. After having the Arabic signboard to his cafe stoned by the crowd, a Syrian shop-keeper named the events as racism “they even attacked our masjid, they beat two kids coming out of a Qur’an course. One showed the target at the front and the group attacked, it seemed a bit planned to me”. A local green grocer with Kurdish origin reacted when he was reminded of the shared experience of discrimination by the journalists – “They called me ‘Kurd with tail’ in Rize, I still cannot forget those days. But a Kurd and a Syrian cannot be compared. My grandpa’s blood was spilt on this land, not Syrians’, they are refugees.” He added, “30 percent of my customers are Syrian but I still do not want them. They should leave so our citizens can have jobs and do shopping first.”


Public Perception on Refugees based on Political Affiliation: The results of a yearly research on the public perception on Turkey’s foreign policy shows an increase in discontent regarding refugees in Turkey. The amount of those who are fine with the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey dropped from 13.6 percent to 7 percent this year. The most interesting is the breakdown of that value according to party affiliations, where the higher rate of contentment towards Syrians is within the people who are affiliated with Nationalist Party (MHP), while the rate of dissatisfaction among center-left CHP and HDP is higher than 70 percent.


Why does the Istanbul Convention Matter for Refugee Women and Girls? The president of Women Associations Federation of Turkey, Canan Güllü elaborates on why the feminist movement and NGOs in Turkey have been advocating for the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention and its significance for women who seek asylum particularly on grounds of gender-based violence. “The Istanbul Convention focuses specifically on protecting asylum-seeking and refugee women in its Articles 60 “Gender-based asylum claims” and 61 “Non-refoulement.” Unfortunately, the enforcement possibilities of these provisions state clearly that hard consequences cannot be enforced in signatory states, including Turkey. This lack of accountability creates difficulties in implementing the Convention.”