We are gathering and reposting the field notes taken by local activist for three weeks during the crises in Pazarkule/Evros border which was aggravated by Turkey, Greece and EU’s border policies and politics of bargaining over human lives. You can find the same report series in Turkish and German (partially translated).
Day 1|| 29 February 2020
is pouring down. While driving on the way to Edirne, we saw at least 20 taxis passing
by, that have Istanbul’s plate number. On the side of the highway, we could
barely see shadows of people who are walking to the border.
district in Istanbul hosts many different life circumstances, constraints and
possibilities which collide in uneven, fragmented often contradictory ways. It
has been home to a substantial Afghan population since 1983, when the Turkish
government invited in a few hundred people during the conflict with the Soviet
Union, mainly the Turkmen and Uzbek Afghans who Turkey considers ‘ethnic
brothers’. Today the population is a mix of migrants (recent, first and second
generation) including Afghans, Turkmen, Uighurs, Kazaks, Tajiks, Iranians,
Pakistanis and Syrians, economic migrants from other parts of Turkey (Adana,
Urfa, Trabzon, Konya), and Turkish citizens who have been living in the neighbourhood
for many decades. The bowels of the street to the sky are marked by capital
transactions, which create counterposing lifestyles existing side-by-side. The
steady erection of luxury sea-view million lira apartment blocks are intended
to attract Arab investors to the area (a $250k property purchase buys you a
Turkish passport, and while Iraqis are currently the country’s biggest
investors, these buildings in Zeytinburnu, one emlakçı (estate agent)
told us, are being aimed at Gulf investors). They are being constructed
alongside unstable infrastructure constructed illegally in the 1970s where
multiple families now live together, and others of migrant dormitories where
beds are rented per hour. According to another Afghan emlakçı working
there, “Normally if an apartment rent is 1200 (TL), it costs 1500-1700 (TL) for
them [foreigners] because two families, between 10 and 12 people, will stay in
one apartment [2
+ 1 apartment for five people].” Below
the street, visible in vents and airways along the gutters, the clicks of textile
machines signal the exploited, mainly migrant, workforce.
introduction of city-wide municipality regulations in June 2019 which stated
that 75 percent of street signs had to be in Turkish there were many Farsi and
Arabic letters lining the streets, which have now been removed; images of
Afghan style haircuts, food (huge Afghan melons are imported by air, sold for
60 Turkish lira), Afghan and Turkmen flags still remain visible. According to
the Mukhtar of Nuri Paşa neighbourhood, one within the district, there are
“Afghan, Uighur lokantas, Syrian bakkals and market. The butcher in front
of us is Afghan. If you go down the street there are Afghan Uighur restaurants.
If you exit Çarşamba Pazar there are
Syrian real estate agents, bakkals
and grocery stores. There are all kinds of trade, they usually shop from each
other.” The Mukhtar invokes the idea of a cosmopolitan and harmonious community.
But global structural tendencies are also intruding into the space, through capitalism,
the businesses which have been created by repercussions of global migration
management regimes (from smuggling to humanitarian), the internalisation of
different visions of hospitality, belonging, nationalism, and the increasing
insecurity and anxiety prompted by the heightened deportations which had
started to intensify in the weeks around the time of the interviews in mid
Detentions of irregular migrants in Turkey | Situations in the Aegean Sea | Push-Backs from Greece | Working conditions in Turkey | New wall at Turkish-Syrian border | Afghan entrepreneurs in Esenyurt, Istanbul
Numbers & Media Coverage of Detentions of Irregular
Migrants in Turkey
Birgün has reported on the figures released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of numbers of migrants in Turkey. According to the reports, in the first four months of 2019 (January until April) the numbers of migrants crossing to the Greek islands decreased by 17.6 percent compared to the previous year. Further, a total of 79,002 migrants – among which were 32,942 Afghans, 11,691 Pakistanis and 6,432 Syrians – were arrested during the same period. The internal ministry reports that the number of detentions decreased by 2.44 percent, while the number of deportation increased by 34 percent compared to the same period in 2018. The Turkish Interior Ministry recorded a total of 268,000 arrests of irregular migrants in 2018.
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.”
On 13th of December 2018, Refugees International published a report concerning the conditions of Afghan asylum-seekers in Turkey, titled “‘You Cannot Exist in This Place:’ Lack of Registration Denies Afghan Refugees Protection in Turkey”. The report claims crucial recommendations to DGMM, UNHCR, EU and US on the facilitation of registration, resettlement and protection for Afghan asylum-seekers. The full report is accesible here in English and Turkish.
As Turkey takes sole responsibility from UNHCR for processing the asylum claims of Afghans and other non-Syrians, it must register them and allow them to access their basic rights, say Refugees International’s Izza Leghtas and Jessica Thea.
Birgün introduces striking data on the migrant labour in Turkey as indicated by the report prepared by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) titled “Migrant Labour in our Country”.
Via Birgün – According to the “Migrant Labour in Our Country” report prepared by CHP (Republican People’s party) Labour Bureau, the majority of migrants, with Syrians making up the largest number, are working irregularly, under heavy exploitative conditions, and dozens of them have lost their lives in workplace homicides.
This article was originally published in Turkish by Birgün.
Linda, a 19-year-old Syrian and registered refugee, had just crossed from Turkey into Greece at the Evros River when men carrying guns appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. She wasn’t sure if they were police officers or soldiers, but they emerged from behind trees and wore dark uniforms that helped them blend into the night.
The Turkish city of Erzurum sits on an expansive green plain, ringed on all sides by towering mountains. Best known as a destination for winter sports enthusiasts, who flock here when snow blankets the nearby slopes, it is also a gateway for another set of visitors – Afghans uprooted by their country’s long and brutal war.