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.
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.”
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are currently living under siege in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. Using the term “siege” is no exaggeration here – many don’t dare step out of their homes to secure their basic needs. They cannot go to work, and they can’t even leave their homes in order to try and correct their legal situation, according to the demands of the Turkish government. Even in their homes, tens of thousands of Syrians don’t feel safe. It is reported that Turkish police patrols have entered homes in Istanbul and Gaziantep, arresting anyone without a Temporary Protection ID, and even those who have Temporary Protection IDs but registered in different provinces.
The fear overwhelming Syrians in Turkey today is compounded and multi-layered. Just as resources are distributed unequally in this world, the level of fear amongst Syrians varies with their legal and economic situation. Nevertheless, all are scared, and their fear is a complex tale that could seem hard to explain.
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.
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.
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.
Anti-Syrian Racism post Istanbul Municipality election re-run | Unknown numbers of refugee children missing | The changing nature of the Syria-Turkey border |
News & Reports
Anti-Syrian Racism post Istanbul Municipality election re-run
The anti-Syrian discourse which was prevalent during the municipality elections, and legitimated by the language which political authorities used has intensified in the aftermath of the results. CHP mayors in several Turkish municipalities publicly used anti-Syrian rhetoric during their campaign bids. The mayor of the town of Kemalpasa in western Turkey, Ridvan Karakayli, said on TV, “We will get rid of Syrians. There is peace in Syria, so what are they doing here? There are shops with signboards with the Syrian language [a reference to Arabic] near our party [building]. I will remove them. They will be taken away from here.”
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.