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.
The official migration policy in Turkey has shifted in the summer months. The government has made serious alterations in its treatment of Syrians and other migrants in the country in response to increasing domestic pressure caused by anti-migrant sentiments, and as a means of political leverage to force the EU into supporting their plans for a ‘safe-zone’ buffer in North Syria. Just recently president Erdoğan emphasized his plans of sending up to three million Syrians in these so called ‘safe-zones’. Mid-July witnessed the start of an intense deportation campaign to the regions of north Aleppo and Idlib, which goes to show how serious Erdoğan is about his plans. In early September 2019, Erdoğan announced to “open the gates to Europe” should the EU not provide further financial support for the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the country. Meanwhile, the number of migrants arriving to the Greek islands has already increased immensely during the summer months.
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.”
Turkish state’s ongoing deportation campaign leaves many with fear | Hostile environment towards Syrian refugees grows beyond Turkey, including Lebanon and Jordan | Greece and Islands: not far from the context in Turkey | Threats and violations towards returnees in Syria | Turkey-US joint military talks on establishment of a safe zone in Northern Syria
Turkish State’s Ongoing Deportation Campaign Leaves Many With Fear:
As the deadline which Turkish authorities set for unregistered migrants to leave Istanbul, 20 August, approaches, different opinions and accounts of the deportations remain on the agenda past week (regardless that the deadline is announced to be extended to October 30th, after we have prepared this digest). We mentioned earlier the report released by We Want To Leave Together Initiative regarding the two weeks of deportations, which is available here now in English.
Another report has been released by Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ, which documents several cases where Syrians, including young and old men, women with children and an unaccompanied minor, some of whom had Temporary Protection IDs, were deported to Syria. Several witnesses interviewed by STJ also told that their Turkish neighbors reported the houses where Syrians live to the authorities, and the police, for its part, intentionally raided these houses at midnight or dawn.
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.
Seven drown in migrant boat sinking off coast of Lesvos | Five migrant workers die due to fire outbreak in textile factory | Turkey deports asylum-seeker whose life is feared to be in danger | Beach ban on Syrians during Ramadan break | Allegations against another NGO working with migrants and refugees in Turkey | Critical Perspectives on EU-Turkey Deal and the myths around it
Seven drown in migrant boat sinking off coast of Lesvos : Ekathimerini reported last Tuesday on migrants drowning while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesvos from Turkey’s shores. The boat was reportedly carrying more than 60 people when it sank. – 11.06.2019
Five migrant workers die due to fire outbreak in textile factory: The fire took place in Akpınar Textile’s factory in Çayırova district of Kocaeli, leaving 5 dead, 3 of whom were Syrian, and 1 Afghan. Health and Safety Labour Watch Turkey (ISIG) reported that many of the factories had migrant workers to work particularly during the 10-day Ramadan break, when workers with Turkish origin are officially on leave. Migrant workers also had to stay in the factory during that period. – 11.06.2019
Closure of Camps at the Syrian Border | Anti-Syrian Sentiments | Tuberculosis Outbreak in a Camp near the Iranian-Armenian Border | Turkey grants residence permits to members of Turkic communities | Story on the Harmandalı Removal Center around Izmir | On Turkishness in Germany | EU published annual report on Turkey
News & Reports
of Camps at the Syrian Border
Throughout our most recent news digests we have been reporting on the ongoing closure of refugee camps on the Turkish border with Syria. Al-Monitor has provided the latest numbers in an article on why Turkey is closing down the camps: Several camps in Gaziantep, Adiyaman and Kilis have already been closed, while Turkey’s largest camp, located in Suruç, is supposed to close on June 23. Around 30,000 Syrian refugees have left the camp so far since April. Of the total 21 camps, which hosted approximately 300,000 Syrians, only 13 camps are left open, accommodating around 120,000 refugees at the moment.
Turkey is called upon to open the border as the bombardments displaced Syrians from Idlib area | Two more refugee camps in the south-east will soon be emptied | Syrians cross into Syria during Ramadan holiday to check what they have left behind | Arbitrary ill-treatment against lawyers visiting Harmandalı Removal Center | How EU-Turkey deal created prison islands to deter asylum-seekers
Widespread bombardment does not spare the civillians in Idlib area, Turkey is asked to open the border for more than 200,000 displaced:
Several Push-backs from Greece around the Evros region | Second pushback from Greek waters in the Aegean Sea within a month | Ten people die trying to reach Greek islands | Worrying reports of deportations of vulnerable people from the Greece islands | Information about a hidden EASO report casting doubt on Turkey as a safe country translated | Mare Liberum prevented from leaving Lesvos | Statement by the Izmir Bar Association on the recent deaths in the Aegean
Several Push-backs from Greece around the Evros
indicate a surge of push-backs at the Greek-Turkish border. Several reports have been published which
describe violent push-backs of people from Greek soil following their crossing
of the Greek-Turkish border via the Evros river.
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