In order to join forces and react together to the escalation of recent events taking place on the Greece-Turkey border since 27th of February, more than 180 groups and organizations from over 18 countries released a joint statement. The statement, which is available in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, English, Spanish, Italian and German, can be signed online at https://crossbordersolidarity.com
Five years after the so-called “refugee crisis” and almost four
years after the EU-Turkey deal, we are once again witnessing the
violence caused by security-centred migration policies. Since last
Thursday (27.02.2020), thousands of people have been moving towards the
Turkey-Greece border following the announcement that migrants wanting to
reach Europe will no longer be stopped on the Turkish side. The
announcement from Turkish government officials came after the death of
33 Turkish soldiers in the Idlib area, where conflict escalation has
seen the civilian death toll rapidly increase by the day, with basic
infrastructure and health facilities being blatantly fired at. Turkish
government keeps its borders with Syria closed while seeing no harm in
pushing thousands of migrants towards the doors of Europe, into a limbo.
Migrants on target of hate: mob violence in Adana and people assisting detentions in Istanbul | Festus Okey Case: Family’s participation is postponed | Erdogan insists on ‘safe zone’ while Greece insists on migration control | Further claims of ill-treatment in Harmandali detention center | Hunger strike of political refugee from Turkey | Returns and arrivals around the Aegean
Migrants on Target of Hate: Mob Violence in Adana and People Assisting Detentions in Istanbul
Residents of Mahmutbey neighborhood in Bağcılar district of Istanbul called the police around 22:00 on 19 September to inform them of noises coming from a workplace. After breaking into the workplace, police forces found a group of migrants inside. Some of the migrants resisted being arrested, the police asked for reinforcements and citizens involved themselves in assisting the capture of migrants who tried to run away. According to Diken, 108 migrants were arrested in total, as citizens applauded and cheered on the police (in Turkish) – 19.09.2019.
On the same night, a similar public unrest turned into an organized attack against Syrians, in the Dumlupınar nieghborhood of Adana province. A mass of locals became mobilized, violently attacking shops and houses of Syrians after an alleged incident of a child abuse. Like many other previous incidents, rumors spread quickly that the perpetrator was a Syrian. However, when the alleged perpetrator was later arrested, the Governorship of Adana released a statement saying he is considered to be a citizen of Turkey – 19.09.2019.
Human Rights Association (IHD) released a report following the violent attacks in Adana. The report concluded that 162 shops and 12 vehicles were ravaged while the police waited a long time before intervening. 25 people were arrested in relation to the attacks. But many Syrians in the neighborhood are still afraid to leave their houses and some have already left the area. According to some testimonies gathered in the report, the group leading the attack had come from outside of the neighborhood and police allowed them to march. Syrians’ shops were tagged with “Turk” and “TC” marks, and most of the open shops in the area hung Turkish flags after the incident.
Hatred towards Syrians in Turkey is also documented by another report, the 2018 Report on Hateful and Discriminating Discourse in Media, prepared by the Foundation of Hrant Dink (named after the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in 2007). Among the groups who are most frequently targeted by hate speech, Syrians come in the third place after Jews and Armenians.
Festus Okey Case: Family’s Participation is Postponed
After the legal case into his murder was reopened last December, the lawyers of Festus Okey travelled to South Africa to meet his family and gather the necessary documents to demand the family’s participation in the proceedings. On the third hearing, which was held on 19 September, the reports which document the DNA profiles of Okey’s family members were finally brought to court. However, the court ruled in favour of deferring the decision about the family’s participation under the pretext of requiring additional documents that are expected from the Ministry of Justice and Interpol Department. The next hearing will be held on 15 January. (See more in Turkish) – 19.09.2019.
Erdogan insists on ‘safe zone’ while Greece insists on migration control
Greece’s new right-wing Prime Minister, who has been fervent in focusing on migrants in his country via frequent arrests and evictions, has reacted to Erdogan’s threats to open the borders. Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a warning to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, telling him not to threaten Greece and Europe in order to secure more money from the European Union, DW reports. Moreover, the Foreign Minister of Greece addressed the issue in a meeting in Berlin on 16 September with his German counterpart. At the joint statement released following the talks, Greek authorities were praised for the steps taken to address the ‘migration problem’, whereas Ankara was urged to stick with the EU-Turkey deal for migrant returns.
On the same day, Erdogan reiterated his safe zone plans through comments he made after talking with presidents of Russia and Iran. As BBC reported, he said that up to three million Syrian refugees could return to their country to live in a “safe zone” in the north. Erdogan said the zone – which is already being set up in co-operation with the US – needed to be extended in order for the goal to be met. – 16.09.2019
Further Claims ofIll-treatment in Harmandali Detention Center: According to Sendika.org, a migrant (with the initials A.İ) was exposed to torture and subsequently started a hunger strike in Izmir’s Harmandali Detention Center. The lawyer stated that his client might have been tortured because of denouncing the drug trafficking in the detention center – 11.09.2019.
Returns and Arrivals Around the Aegean
In Lebanon, rights activists and refugees themselves fear that they’re witnessing a wide government crackdown designed to increase pressure on Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return home. Between 21 May and 28 August, more than 2,730 Syrianswere sent back under the new rule, according to statistics released by General Security, a government intelligence agency that handles foreign residents. See more here.
The Guardian addresses how the infrastructure on the Aegean islands is now at breaking point, taking Moria as an example. The main camp in Lesvos, which was orginally designed for 3,000 people, is hosting 10,400 people. An aid worker from the island comments
“This is a policy-driven crisis where the EU has sought to contain and externalise the problem [of migration] to the Greek isles. The EU-Turkey deal was supposed to be a ‘temporary and extraordinary measure’ to reduce flows and open safe legal alternatives to smugglers. Instead it has created camps where people are robbed of their dignity and forced to live in horrendous conditions.”
Hunger Strike of Political Refugee From Turkey: Deniz Reşit Pınaroğlu, a political refugee from Turkey began a hunger strike in the beginning of September to protest the detention center he is being held in Torino, Italy.
“I have been held in a camp called CPR in Torino for the last month. I have been subjected to a series of unlawful practices and I am being held here unlawfully.The policemen of Piacenza who caught and brought me here told me that I was to stay here for 2 days. Without being provided a lawyer or a translator they have made me sign some documents in Italian and brought me here to this camp in Torino by lying to me.”
New York Times Reporter Carlotta Gall has gathered the accounts of Syrians in Gaziantep, following Erdogan’s announcements of his plan to open a safe zone and relocate a million refugees in Syria. It is reported that vans and buses of Syrian refugees are arriving almost hourly at the border crossing near the town of Kilis, and that the police are depositing unregistered refugees directly across the border. Syrians see the new policies as being aimed at making them leave. “They need to make us think it is better to go back to the safe zone,” says one of the interviewees.
Syrians in Istanbul are using tactics similar to those they learned back home to avoid being hunted and to stay in Turkey, Raja Abdulrahim writes for WSJ. For example she reports how one young woman prefers wearing the headscarf in Turkish style, and a photographer wears shorts above the knee on the few days he dares to leave his house. “Early during the uprising against the Syrian regime, activists created WhatsApp message groups to send out warnings about army checkpoints or security raids. Now they send similar alerts about patrols in Istanbul and neighborhoods to avoid, said Abdulqader Laheeb, a Syrian journalist in Istanbul.“
Update concerning inhumane and unlawful deportations of Syrians | Condemn of deportations across broad range of civil society actors| Anti migrant discourse fueled by many politicians | Tense atmosphere in Istanbul | Turkey suspends readmission agreement with EU | Horrifying conditions at Harmandalı Removal Center | Report of 25 refugees who froze to death at the Turkish-Iranian border
Update concerning inhumane and unlawful deportations of Syrians
in the previous weeks about mass deportations of Syrians, several journalists and Institutions have published
further details about the (ongoing) inhumane and unlawful deportations of
Syrians living in Turkey. Rights groups in Istanbul claim that within one week between 600 and 1500
Syrians were wrongfully returned from Istanbul to Syria. It is reported,
through discussions on social media and by people with contacts in the
communities, that other migrant groups, particularly those who are living and
working undocumented in Istanbul are also being targeted.
Condemn of deportations across broad range of
civil society actors
Several Human rights organizations have harshly criticized the deportations in public statements.
refugee stranded at Istanbul Airport for more than six weeks | Violent and
illegal pullback by Turkish Coast Guard in the Aegean Sea | Increasing
violence by Coast Guards in the Aegean | Racism and hatred again Syrians
in Turkey | Research paper on ‘Border policies and migrant deaths at the
Turkish-Greek border’ published
refugee stranded at Istanbul Airport for more than six weeks
A Palestinian refugee from Syria, Mohamed Ajlani Younes, has been stranded at Istanbul Airport since 26 May and is currently at risk of imminent deportation to Lebanon. According to Amnesty International he has been living in the airport with no access to adequate food, natural light or fresh air for more than 6 weeks. He fled the Syrian war in 2012 to Lebanon, where he lived in Shatila refugee camp with his wife and two children. He recently left Lebanon to come to Turkey out of fear of being send back to Syria. When he entered Turkey on the 26th May, he was stopped at the airport and denied entry for allegedly travelling with a fake passport. He then applied for asylum, expressing his fears about being returned to Lebanon. According to Amnesty International a deportation to Lebanon would put him in danger of being sent to Syria, where he would be at risk of serious human rights violations.
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 Refugeesbased 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
Up to 300,000 civilians recently flee due to
attack in northwest Syria – People demand the opening of Turkish border | Syrians
returning for Eid al-Fitr fear prosecution in Syria | Migrants tortured by
Greek police and pushed back to Turkey | Pushback-alike attack in the Aegean |
Chased person dies at the Turkish seaside | Turkish police claim to break up
“Europe’s biggest people-smuggling ring” | Hundreds of refugees
misallocated as “not willing to become resettled” by UNHCR Turkey| Difficulties
obtaining Syrian documents in Turkey | Report about African communities in
News & Reports
Up to 300,000 civilians recently flee due to
attacks in northwest Syria – People demand Turkish border to be opened
According to press-reports the situation at the Syrian-Turkish border is worsening. Between 200,000 to 300,000 civilians have recently fled due to attacks by Russian and Assad forces in northwest Syria. Most of them have sought refuge along the border with Turkey. Camps are already overcrowded, people have established new ones close to the Turkish border wall. Many of them are desperate and angry due to a lack of protection and the missing response of Turkey as well as international actors.
Harassment, sexual assault or violent threats towards LGBTI and women refugees across Turkey | Crossing to EU through Cyprus | Child abuse case sparks feelings of insecurity in multi-ethnic neighborhood | Syrian seasonal workers exploited between multinational companies and Turkish middlemen | On exile but with the spirit of “Arab spring” in Istanbul | Arbitrary procedure of detention on arrival to Lesvos
LGBTI refugees are calling on the UK Home Office to take immediate steps, as they continue to live in fear of homophobic violence in Turkey: Fifteen LGBT Syrian refugees are launching a legal challenge against the UK Home Office claiming they have been abandoned to a life of danger in Turkey, despite promises of being quickly brought to safety in the UK. Although they were accepted to a refugee resettlement scheme by the Home Office, they have been waiting for more than two years to be resettled, and are forced to live in hiding as a result. See more – 15.04.2019
Policeman’s Sentence for Sexually Assaulting an Uzbek Woman Reduced due to ‘Good Behavior’: For sexually assaulting a migrant woman from Uzbekistan in a police car in October 2018, the police officer Ş.Ş has been sentenced to 18 years, yet the sentence was reduced to 15 considering the “stance and behavior of the defendant in the hearings”. Four other officers were also under trial for the incident. The court acquitted one of them, and the other three have been sentenced to 7 months and 15 days in prison for “not reporting an offense” as public officers. See more – 26.04.2019
Racism against Syrians in local elections | Malpractice in police custody against Iranians | A graveyard for Syrians in Izmir | Claims for a birthright citizenship in Turkey | Critical perspectives on the EU-Turkey deal | Calls for giving a voice to refugees/migrants
Local elections on March 31 and racism
Kristina Jovanovski reports for NBC News about increasing racist sentiments against the Syrian population in Turkey. According to her report, Turkish people are blaming Syrians for higher job competition and are complaining about increasing cultural differences. Syrian people interviewed by the author report that they are facing racism on a regular basis, increasing their feelings of insecurity in Turkey. Both members of the AKP and the CHP have publicly called for a return of all Syrians to Syria during their respective election campaigning. Omar Kadkoy of Tepav think tank (The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey) sees them as a “convenient scapegoat” and argues that it is the low number of job permits granted by the government which is responsible for employers being able to pay Syrians less in informal employment, “feeding into perceptions that Syrians are stealing jobs and lowering wages”.
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