Reports of human rights groups on Turkey’s ‘forced’ voluntary return practices and ‘unsafe’ safe-zone not welcomed by Turkish officials | EU mobilises millions of Euros to Turkey for increasing migration control | Still, and once again, Erdoğan threatens the EU with refugees | Increasing crossings also on the Greek-Turkish land border | Bulgaria’s response to irregular crossings at Bulgarian-Turkish border
Reports ofHuman Rights Groups on Turkey’s ‘Forced’ Voluntary Peturn Practices and ‘Unsafe’ Safe-Zone not Welcomed by Turkish Officials
The Turkish state’s attempt to remove Syrian refugees to so-called safe-zone in Northern Syria have been proven to be unrighteous by several reports released in the past weeks, as the deadline given to unregistered Syrians to leave Istanbul, 30 October, approached.
Human Rights Watch’s report details the hostile and unlawful treatment involved in the arbitrary deports and detentions of Syrians in Istanbul and Antakya between January and September 2019. The report underlines that a significant number of Syrians are being deported against their will to one of the most dangerous areas in Syria, Idlib, where at least 1,089 civilians have been killed since April. HRW invites Turkey’s Interior Ministry to ensure that Turkish authorities do not use violence against Syrians or other detained foreign nationals and to hold any officials using violence to account. – 24.10.2019
Amnesty International’s report also accuses Turkish authorities of forcibly deporting hundreds of Syrian refugees back to war-torn areas in the north of Syria, by using threats, force and deception. The report includes testimonies of refugees who were beaten into signing ‘voluntary return’ documents, and others who signed in order to receive blankets from detention centres. “Returns until now have been anything but safe and voluntary – and now millions more refugees from Syria are at risk” says Anne Shea from AI. – 25.10.2019
Following these, Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management published an on-line press statement on 25th October (in Turkish only) to declare that Amnesty International’s report “does not reflect the truth”. The statement considers such reports to be unfair in light of the great effort and commitment shown by Turkey in hosting 4 million refugees alone while several countries in Africa and Europe have been stages for violence and inhumane conditions against foreigners in detention centers. It is claimed that 364.663 people have returned to Syria voluntarily up to date, and the returns have been carried out in compliance with international law. In another attempt to deny the claims of human rights defenders, the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told to AlJazeera “Our authorities has been carrying out the ‘repatriating process’ in collaboration the UN refugee agency and other non-governmental organisations. Our country has in every opportunity always stressed that refugee returns should be voluntary, secure and in line with the international law.” – 25.10.2019
On 1 November, the day after “the time given to Syrians” was over, Human Rights Association – Turkey (IHD) and We Want to Live Together initiative released their second joint report on Deportations ad Human Rights Abuses towards Refugees (full report available only in Turkish). The report includes a significant number of accounts – received via applications made to IHD by phone or mail – of “voluntary” forced deportations and ill-treatment by police officers, as well as the effects of deportations on family unity, the findings on human rights abuses in working environment, breaches on right to health and a list of demands against all these. IHD mentioned that the situation has turned into a humanitarian crises in Istanbul as the findings imply that “migrants cannot leave their houses for even their basic needs due to the climate of fear”, “the practice of ‘administrative detention’ has turned into ‘forced detention'”, and “voluntary repatriation documents are proven to be invalid considering high number of applications to return to Turkey”, among others. – 01.11.2019
EU Mobilises Millions of Euros to Turkey for Increasing Migration Control: Maciej Popowski, the European Commission Deputy Director General for Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, has announced in a meeting at Brussels that the EU is preparing to pay Turkey 50 million euros in order to improve the capacities of its coast guard, improve the conditions in migrant detention centers and help refugees to integrate. The money will be drawn from a budget meant to prepare Turkey for its accession to the European Union and from a separate “peace and stability” fund, he said. – 06.11.2019
Still, and Once Again, Erdoğan Threatens the EU with Refugees: Speaking alongside Hungary’s right wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban on 7 November, Erdoğan told reporters the refugees will be allowed into Europe unless the EU provides more support “Whether we receive support or not, we will continue to aid the guests we are hosting. But, if this doesn’t work out, then we will have to open the doors,”
Increasing Crossings also on the Greek-Turkish Land Border: InfoMigrants reports on crossings across the Evros River as well as push-backs, violent and illegal treatments by authorities and ‘masked men’. Although there are mixed reports about how many people are crossing via this border, the numbers provided by IOM indicate a steady increase in the last months, from 255 arrivals in May to 1,233 in September. – 06.11.2019
Bulgaria’s Response to Irregular Crossings at Bulgarian-Turkish Border: Bulgarian Ministry of Interior confirmed that Border Police officers prevented 2,122 attempts of ‘illegal’ entry at the border with Turkey between 1 January and 31 October 2019, and 206 people were detained. The ministry has also approved the emergency response plan as a result of “increased migration pressure” along Bulgaria’s border with Turkey, which will probably result in further militarization and surveillance technologies to be implemented along the border. – 12.11.2019
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.
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.
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
Mare Liberum to set sail again | Refoulement at Turkish-Greek border | Case against Greece at European Court of Human Rights | Threat of deportation from Bulgaria to Turkey
Mare Liberum ready to set sail again
In a blog post, the crew of the human rights monitoring project Mare Liberum look back at one year of presence in the Aegean Sea, between Turkey to Greece. The project was launched in early 2018 with the mission to “observe, document and draw public attention to the dangerous situation at the European border”. Although Greek authorities were eager to criminalize the project from the very beginning, the Mare Liberum crew managed to set sail in late August 2018. In its post, the crew offers an overview over its activities during the past year. Criticizing the negative effects of the EU-Turkey deal, they state:
Turkish University student drowned in Evros river | 3 Turkish citizens arrested while attempted to cross to Greece | Numbers on border crossings, interceptions and arrests | Turkey’s military operation ‘mavi vatan’ | A new March of Hope in Northern Greece
Developments at the Greek-Turkish Border
A 21-year old Turkish student, Maher Mete Kul, died on the 24 March after he tried to cross the Evros river between Greece and Turkey, in an attempt to flee the country and seek asylum. Kul had spend 10 months in prison on charges of membership in a leftist group, Liseli Dev-Genç (High School Revolutionary Youth). With a travel ban on his passport, the clandestine and dangerous route crossing the river border remained his only chance to leave the country. His mother had fled to Greece five months ago.
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.”