Police used tear gas to disband migrants waiting at immigration office/// On people trying to reach Greek islands/// Poor reception conditions trigger returns in the context of EU-Turkey deal/// An official NGO has been set up in Turkey with the name ‘Syrians to Syria’/// New editorial features launched by Syrian independent media
Police fire tear gas on migrants waiting in front of Denizli immigration office: In the southwest city of Denizli, police reportedly used tear gas to disband a crowd who were waiting for their ID processing, scheduled for Monday morning (4 March). Dozens of migrants, mainly from Afghanistan and Iran, had camped out on Sunday night in front of the Denizli migration management office to wait, and some were sleeping on the pavement when police intervened. See more here – 05/03/2019
Talks on ‘safe zone’///Ongoing return discourse///Arbitrary deportations///Migrant labour/// Municipal-level responses to refugees
U.S. delegation visited Turkey presumably to discuss the Syrian “safe zone”: After Trump reversed his decision to fully withdraw from Syria with the continued presence of about 400 US troops, the meeting was expected to discuss the stalled talks concerning a safe zone across the border in Northern Syria, an issue which the two sides have divergent views on, according to some sources. Trump’s senior adviser Kushner’s three-hour meeting with Erdogan ended without an official statement. – 27.02.2019
We introduce you to our new weekly news digeston migration, asylum and border issues primarily in Turkey as well as on the general European context as far as it is connected to Turkey.
Anti-Migrant Violence and Discrimination///Exploitation///Border Region///Broader Discourse///Numbers///Further Information
Anti-migrant violence and discrimination
After mass attacks against the Syrian community in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul on the 9 February, reported here, the anti-Syrian attacks are continuing. Four masked individuals raided into the house of a Syrian family in Sultangazi, Istanbul. Among seven people living in the house, one was severely injured after being shot in the head.
Seven Syrian families living in the Artuklu neighborhood of Mardin were threatened with letters posted at their doors, three of which also had a bullet placed next to them, Evrensel reports. The letters read: “Respectful landlord, if you don’t leave the house in 10 days, a bomb attack will be organized. This is your first warning, the second one will hurt someone. We don’t want you in this neighborhood.”
A fight between two groups quickly turned into a mass assault on the Syrian community in the Esenyurt District of Istanbul on 9 February. A mass crowd chanted xenophobic slogans on the streets where many Syrians live and own small shops. Despite the extensive aggression and damage to Syrian shops, no measures were taken against Turkish citizens, while three Syrians were arrested. In their published report on the incident, IHD (Human Rights Association) pointed to the temporary protection status of Syrians as accelerating their insecure position, and called on authorities to take the necessary measures to stop future racist aggression.
Turkey’s state-run news agency “Anadolu Agency” has been providing contradicting numbers on the irregular migrants held by Turkish authority across the country. By the beginning of this year, the agency announced the number of the migrants held in the seas around Turkey to be 26,678 for 2018, indicating a rise of 21.6 percent compared to 2017. Regarding 2019, the numbers released so far sum up to more than 2,500.
Due to the reopening of the case of Festus Okey last week, Pelin Çakir summarizes and comments on the murder and its contexts for HarekAct
by Pelin Çakır
Festus Okey, was born in 1975, in the Abia state of Nigeria, one of eleven children born to a farming couple. His brother Tochukwu migrated to South Africa to support his family in their poverty, but told Festus that conditions were very bad there, leading Festus to come to Istanbul instead in 2005. He worked in temporary jobs and played football with amateur teams in the so-called African league of Istanbul, a league which gives hope to many African young men to be discovered by the agents of professional football teams and therefore become a reputed player. His friends were calling him Okute. By coincidence, he appeared in an independent documentary which reported on the league, firstly recorded while running in the field, then unexpectedly during his funeral (how his murder was initially acknowledged by the press).
It wasn’t easy to escape the police’s ‘attention’ as a black man in Istanbul. The first time he was arrested by police for being undocumented, and kept for several months in Kumkapı detention center until he managed to file an asylum application to the UNHCR. On the early evening of 20 August 2007, Festus Okey and his friend Mamina Oga were stopped by an undercover police officer in the central Beyoğlu area of Istanbul. The police officer later described how they were apprehended with the following words “black persons and citizens from the East draw more attention with respect to narcotics”. Continue reading Festus Okey: a long road to justice→
Following our attendance at the Kritnet Conference in last May, we finally had the chance to share our contributions in HarekAct. One of our editors focused on the post EU-Turkey deal context in Istanbul, Turkey, which is marked by policies and practices of marginalization, irregularization and criminalization of migrants. The unfavorable conditions in the provision of registration, services and protection, with the implementation of additional mechanisms of securitization, detention and forced deportation, has had the impact of extending the constraints of the global border regime further to directly affect the living experiences of migrants in Istanbul.
In July, Human Rights Watch also published a report on the consequences of Turkey’s suspension of registering Syrians in Istanbul and other nine cities along the Syrian border. The report claims that this practice represents Turkey’s latest efforts in denying new asylum-seekers protection, following the closure of the borders and the shooting at individuals attempting to cross. Ultimately it is forcing Syrians to live under the risk of deportation, without access to urgent services, and having to depend on smugglers inside Turkey.
Photographer and filmmaker Ali arrived in Lesvos one night in spring 2018 and has since then been living in Moria refugee camp. Currently, Moria is ‘hosting’ triple its capacities with more than 7.000 women, men and children trapped in inhumane and life-threatening conditions. Many are sleeping rough, with not enough tents and blankets for everyone. Winter is approaching fast and there is no solution and relief to be expected!
Ali produced a short film called ‘Silent Message’ that focuses on the appalling conditions refugees are facing in the camp and the life on the island. His previous work focused on the situation of the Hazara minority in Pakistan. Lisa from HarekAct and Ali met in Lesvos for an Interview.
Ali, tell us about your film ‘Silent Message’!
The film is not as good as I wanted it to be, as I realized it with very little equipment but with a lot of help of friends.
With my film, I wanted to show the life for refugees in Moria: The food lines, the tents and the garbage everywhere. But the film is also a message to other refugees stuck on the island. I wanted to show that there can be a life outside of Moria: exploring the capital of Lesvos, spending time at the beaches, swimming or fishing – and thereby trying to forget the horrors of Moria at least for a moment. I see so many people in Moria thinking about their asylum decision all the time and are getting depressed from waiting. So, I decided to do a documentary without any interviews, a silent film to give some hope!
Reporting from the kritnet conference in Göttingen – Part 2
The HarekAct editorial board attended the 16th kritnet conference in Göttingen between 11-13th of May. It was a very good occasion to share and exchange knowledge, meet our friends, activists and colleagues again and discuss future projects and plans. We took part in the workshop titled “Post 2015 Border Regime – Re-Stabilization of the European Border Regime after the ‘Long Summer of Migration’”. We discussed the extension of borders into the cities following the example of Istanbul; the state of the border regime and public debate on migration in Turkey; and the impact and future of the EU-Turkey statement for both Greece and Turkey. Besides the individual inputs, we had a rich collective discussion with various perspectives, information and experiences brought by activists, researchers and professionals from Germany, Turkey, Greece and Kurdish region, and we are looking forward to keep building on the ideas we had as well as the connections we built there.
Although with a little bit of delay, now we would like to share our contributions to the workshop one by one. Enjoy the inputs presented by HarekAct editors in written and updated form in our blog. Keep posted!
by Lisa Groß
Disobedient Border Crossings…
Since the EU-Turkey Deal, the number of clandestine border crossings has dropped substantially, and the agreement is still deterring many migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea. But that’s not the whole picture: Since April 2016, more than 60.000 people made it across the Aegean, and boats are still landing on the islands on an almost daily basis, despite augmented border control. Recently, the number of migrants arriving on the Greek Aegean islands via the sea are increasing again. While around 3.200 people arrived between April and May 2017, the number almost doubled during the same period in 2018, with circa 6.000 migrants making it safely to Greece. This year up until mid-June, circa 13.000 migrants have crossed from Turkey to Greece, with most of the boats still arriving on Lesvos island (ca. 7.000) (see UNHCR).