“The last thing we lose is hope and as a saying goes: those who persevere, triumph”
Robin, Istanbul; November 2019
* Spanish version below / versión en español abajo
by Gianmaria Lenti (Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, Mexico) & Bernardo López Marín (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
This anthropological study focuses on the experiences and realities of Latin American migrants who are stuck in Turkey in irregular situation. They represent a large, but virtually invisible population due to their absence in official statistics and migration studies, although their arrival to the country is not a new trend. The majority of them have had their rights undermined and are exposed to abuse, difficulties and deprivation as a result of their irregular immigration status. Some of them find it hard to get jobs or, become the cheap labor that underpins the capitalist system of labor exploitation. Many Latin Americans migrants refrain from seeking help from the humanitarian system, since many of them do not know their rights, only speak Spanish, come from disadvantaged social strata or never achieved a higher educational level. Moreover, many humanitarian organizations deny them access to certain services for fear of reprisals from the authorities as a result of their irregular status.
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
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
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.”
According to public prosecutor of Istanbul’s indictment, on 15 October, a taxi carrying a 27 year-old Uzbek woman was stopped by police officers Ş.Ş and İ.K. Afterwards she was taken in the police car, detained for 3-4 hours in the car, raped by the officer Ş.Ş, her 1400 turkish liras were seized and she was finally dropped in the Yedikule area.
Afterwards when she went to the police station in Aksaray in order to denounce the case she was returned by the officer Y.S who said “He is already regretful like a dog, I’ll give him the necessary punishment. Now you go and take a shower, take a good rest, and forget about this, won’t worry”
The next day, a friend of the rape victim went to the police station and other police officers who were informed of the case brought the complaint to the public prosecution. On 17th of October, police officers Ş.Ş and İ.K were arrested, the other three officers who did not take legal actions on the complaint were released.
Molly O’Toole covers the complexity of a life between displacement and return for Syrian refugees in Turkey for Newsweek. Collating stories of several Syrian interviewees, the article highlights the challenges regarding the flight to Turkey, living conditions with severe barriers to registration, education, work and health, as well as the expectations on resettlement despite the rising discourse of ‘return’:
“The refugees face a no-win situation: If they return to Assad’s Syria, they risk conscription, disappearance and sectarian retribution, as well as an utter lack of basic services and opportunity. If they stay in Turkey, they face chronic uncertainty and destitution, as domestic and international politics turn against them.”
This article was originally published by Newsweek.
Burcu Karakaş reports on the everyday challanges for Syrian refugee women in Turkey: “Violence, exploitation, marginalisation: these are the challenges of a difficult everyday life for many Syrian refugee women in Turkey”
Rima, whose name has been changed for security reasons, is a young Syrian woman. Until five years ago, she was living in Syria with her family. One day, a bomb dropped on their house, killing her husband and three brothers. After this unexpected tragedy, Rima, mother of three, left her hometown for Turkey.
Due to the reopening of the case of Festus Okey last week, Pelin Çakir summarizes and comments on the murder and its contexts for HarekAct
by Pelin Çakır
Festus Okey, was born in 1975, in the Abia state of Nigeria, one of eleven children born to a farming couple. His brother Tochukwu migrated to South Africa to support his family in their poverty, but told Festus that conditions were very bad there, leading Festus to come to Istanbul instead in 2005. He worked in temporary jobs and played football with amateur teams in the so-called African league of Istanbul, a league which gives hope to many African young men to be discovered by the agents of professional football teams and therefore become a reputed player. His friends were calling him Okute. By coincidence, he appeared in an independent documentary which reported on the league, firstly recorded while running in the field, then unexpectedly during his funeral (how his murder was initially acknowledged by the press).
It wasn’t easy to escape the police’s ‘attention’ as a black man in Istanbul. The first time he was arrested by police for being undocumented, and kept for several months in Kumkapı detention center until he managed to file an asylum application to the UNHCR. On the early evening of 20 August 2007, Festus Okey and his friend Mamina Oga were stopped by an undercover police officer in the central Beyoğlu area of Istanbul. The police officer later described how they were apprehended with the following words “black persons and citizens from the East draw more attention with respect to narcotics”. Continue reading Festus Okey: a long road to justice→
Migrant kids born in Turkey is a crucial and growing topic. 385,431 babies born to Syrian parents in Turkey between April 2011 and November 2018, according to official statistics. As mentioned in the report below many problems and risks emerge in this area: such as the the discriminative treatment migrant mothers face that may turn violent and traumatic during the labour, not having access to public hospitals (being refused, or being charged high prices) and therefore having to give birth in improper conditions, having difficulties to register the kids, and to receive health-care, education and other social services later on.
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Sham’s start in life was not easy.
“I was in labour. I was in pain, lying in the hospital bed, but the midwives did not help me,” recalls her mother Kawthar Muhammet, a Syrian now living in Turkey who uses the Turkish spelling of her last name, Mohammed. “They said to me, ‘You’re fleeing war and having sex?’ They called me names that I don’t want to repeat. They abandoned me.
We have previously posted about Derya, the Irani asylum-seeker who was protesting for more than a month in front of UNHCR on the claim that she has no life security in Turkey because of the life threats she has been receiving from her brother. Reports arrived a couple of days ago that non she has been missing.
A woman supporter who went to visit Derya in front of the UNHCR building could not find her and asked to the security guard, the guard responded that ‘someone took her’. The lawyers who support Derya could not find any information through UNHCR, DGMM or police stations. We are looking forward to find out where Derya is, we are urging the authorities to take an action to find her, particularly on this significant day, 25th of November, the international day for the elimination of the violence against woman.