HarekAct’s Weekly Digest 09/09/2019

1st-8th September

Erdoğan plays the refugee card once again towards EU to push for his safe-zone goal | Migrant children are not registered in schools in Istanbul | Refugees on hold in Van Bus station | Uighurs in Turkey increasingly live in fear of deportation despite the ‘brotherhood’ accorded to them so far | The Political Economy of Discrimination in Turkey | Turkey’s politics towards Syrians from left to right: From the perspective of a Syrian Turkmen | Report on the racism and discrimination towards LGBTI+ Refugees


Erdoğan plays the refugee card once again towards EU to push for his safe-zone goal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened European countries with opening the borders if the long-awaited safe zone in northern Syria is not established. “Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30km (20 miles) depth in northern Syria. This way, we can provide them with humane living conditions” Erdoğan said, adding: “Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union.”

Migrant Children are not Registered in Schools in Istanbul

We Want to Live Together Initiative has applied to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, based on the claims that the children of migrants who are not registered in Istanbul are being denied their right to education. They state that the practice of the Ministry of Education of Turkey is violating several provisions of the international human rights conventions, and therefore must end.

“In the last few weeks when asylum seekers parents (Syrians and parents of other nationalities who are not registered in Istanbul) have attempted to register their kids for school (for the upcoming academic year starting on September 9, 2019), school administrators, especially in Istanbul, have not been accepting to register them. They have been asking families to go to other cities in order to register their children for schools. (…) Applications for Temporary Protection in cities which accept applications take several months for individuals who are not registered in any city. As a consequence, their children are not able to apply for admission to any school before the start of the upcoming academic year.”

Refugees on hold in Van Bus station: A Kurdish news agency has reported on the out-of-sight tragedy of migrants who are brought to Turkey by smugglers and left at Van bus station. It is reported that some of them have now been living in the station for months, not knowing where to go since they entered the country irregularly.

photo: ANF

Uighurs in Turkey increasingly live in fear of deportation despite the ‘brotherhood’ accorded to them so far
Al Monitor covers the situation of Uighurs, refugees from so-called East Turkestan or Xinjiang region of China, who are increasingly looking for support as Ankara is turning its face to China in order to build better business ties. As the activists and community leaders contacted by Al-monitor claim the Uighurs have not been spared form the massive detention and deportation campaign of the past weeks “Hundreds of Uighurs are currently held in Turkish deportation centers, while many others have lost their residency in recent months. With no ability to renew their Chinese passports and no legal status in Turkey to protect them, these people face an uncertain future,” they write.


The Political Economy of Discrimination in Turkey
Helen Mackreath, on of the editors of HarekAct analyze the multiple dynamics of anti-Syrian discrimination in Turkey for Jadaliyya. She dwells on how Syrians are attributed certain categorisations and generalisations as a result of being subjects of capital accumulation and these hierarchies and racialised discrimination work to depoliticise them further. She argues

“Focusing on racialized discrimination against Syrians as merely born out of identity politics neglects the structures which help create the conditions for it to exist, and the manner in which they relate in intersecting and structural bonds with each other. Race and racism help create, reproduce, and reinforce an array of hierarchies rooted in class domination, while the social processes which impact on the manner of capital accumulation influence the way in which they are articulated. One of the repercussions of discrimination and “otherness” is that they create subjective affirmations of identity that fragment and erode the rationale for political collectivity. In analyzing their articulations, one should also question the extent to which they prevent equal social and political rights and a sense of solidarity informed by social justice.”

Turkey’s politics towards Syrians from left to right: From the perspective of a Syrian Turkmen
A young activist from the Turkmen minority of Syria who is living as a refugee in Istanbul, Amin Noor, writes on the anxiety by the escalating anti-Syrian policies and discourse. Responding to who he is, why Syrians are in Turkey, and the various positions of the left and right wing political parties in Turkey towards Syrians, he discusses what to do against the false conceptions, hatred and xenophobia that is spread towards them.

“This is the key issue on which Turks and Syrians really need to work. On both left and right, Syrians and Turks need to know each other more; they need to communicate. The more they communicate within an institutionalized framework, the better. Why not have, say, a center-leftist Syrian Türkmen attend CHP sessions as an audit?
Turks also need to recognize that there is no Syrian army or Syrian police or any kind of Syrian power on their land. In fact it is the opposite; Turks can justly or unjustly purge Syrians without any local repercussions. It is of the utmost importance to deconstruct the “ethical” justifications for attacking Syrians by showing how void the anti-Syrian arguments and rumors are. The Turkish left should be reminded that it is a defining value of the left to accept refugees! And not be xenophobic towards them.


Hevi LGBTI+ have released a report on the racism and discrimination being experienced by LGBTI+ Refugees in Turkey: HEVI LGBTI+ is an NGO working at the intersection of the LGBTI+ movement, discrimination and migration, founded in 2013 as an initiative by majority Kurdish and later included LGBTI+s from various identities (Arab, Farsi, Armenian, Greek, Alevi, Christian). The report was released as the result of an education program on the multiple discriminations experienced by refugee LGBTI+s.

“The work also found that the new wave of racism in Turkey, particularly those of Syrian refugees, has increased among LGBTI+. As the LGBTI + movement and its activists, it has been observed that the language we use sometimes and the activities we do sometimes cause discrimination and racism to become more legitimate.

“The LGBTI+ movement, which seeks to produce social policies in many areas, is seen to produce social policies in the fight against racism. This educational study revealed that social movements in Turkey-and the LGBTI+ movement in particular – need urgent new work and social policies in the field of combating racism.”