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.
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.
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
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.