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.
Update on the Deportation of Syrians | Anti-Syrian Discrimination | Turkey’s plans in North Syria
News & Reports
Update on the Deportation of Syrians
The solidarity initiative ‘We want to Live Together’ (Birlikte Yaşamak Istiyoruz Inisiyatifi) have released a comprehensive report, entitled “Two Weeks of Deportations” which details a few accounts of the deportations, forced signing of voluntary return documents and ill-treatment of Syrians at the hands of Turkish armed forces which the Governorate and Provincial Migration Management Authorities continue to deny. The Turkish version of the report can be found here, and an English version is forthcoming. A summary of the report includes –
Update on the Deportation of Syrians & News from the Resistance and Support Movement | Numbers on ‘Irregular Migration’ | Syrian shot by Turkish border guards | Petition for Syrian in Greek prison for alleged human smuggling | Crackdown on critical media websites and social media accounts
News & Reports
Update on the Deportation of Syrians & News from the Resistance and
Despite reports on the mass deportations of Syrian nationals from Turkey to the Idlib region in Syria making international news, the EU has still not reacted to the human rights violations. The German government, confronted with the accusations being made against Turkey by the leftist party ‘Die Linke’, said that they are aware of the ‘alleged returns of Syrian nationals’, but that the Turkish government denies the reports and the UNHCR have also not verified the accounts. The several reports by Syrians who have been deported (here and here) as well as a report by Human Rights Watch were apparently not enough evidence for the German government to, at the very least, voice their concerns towards the Turkish government.
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.
Mass Deportation Campaign in Istanbul Against Syrians: #StopDeportationsToSyria | Stories and reactions shared on social media about deportations | Latest statements from the authorities on the issue | Asylum seeker woman tortured in Harmandalı Removal Center | 17 Migrants killed in bus crash in Eastern Turkey | Rising Anti-Arab Hate Also Hits Palestinians in Turkey | Syrian Woman builds her own catering business with WhatsApp
Mass Deportation Campaign in Istanbul Against Syrians:#StopDeportationsToSyria
Since around ten days, Turkish authorities have increased stop-and-search checks around Istanbul, targeting Syrians without registration papers (including those who are registered in other cities) or for working informally. It is alleged that many have been detained and eventually deported to Syria, some after having been forced to sign “voluntary repatriation” forms. The campaign is yet another wave of fear being inflicted on Syrians in Istanbul, following statements from key Turkish politicians about imposing stricter policies and controls on Syrians, and the rising anti-Syrian discourse, which we have covering in the past weeks.
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.
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:
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.”
Chigozie Obioma has narrated his experiences as a Nigerian student in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for the Paris Review . His experiences vary from the solidarity they build with the compatriots to cope with daily discrimination, to the differences in food culture, but most importantly about the daily racist and humiliating treatment people face being a black young adult in Northern Cyprus.
Via the Paris Review– “As a Nigerian young adult traveling abroad for the first time, the thrill I experienced was, at first, intoxicating.(…) My visa application to the UK had been rejected, and so I found my new destination, a university in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It was a nation few people seemed to know much about.”