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Turkish Refugees Crossing Evros River

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees revealed in June 2018 that Turkey is the country hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. Turkish Ministry of Interior Directorate General of Immigration revealed that as of 18 July 2018, the number of Syrian refugees according to the biometric data recorded in Turkey is 3 million 541 thousand 572. In addition to this number, there are approximately 300 thousand non-registered refugees who are not Syrians. While the total number of refugees is estimated to be 4 million, the number of non-registered refugees is estimated to be around 2 million.

Although Turkey appears to be doing its part about the refugees in the political arena, according to Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner of EU for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, the refugee crisis is the only weapon of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to put pressure on Europe. On the other hand, the other side of the iceberg points out to a terrifying paradox.

Why Do the Turks Go to Europe as Refugees?

While Turkey hosts 6 million foreign national refugees, 41 thousand 500 Turkish refugees moved to Europe after the so-called coup attempt according to Eurostat.

Thousands of families, and tens of thousands people including academicians, journalists, doctors, teachers, and lawyers were forced to leave their own country after the coup attempt which took place in 15 July 2016. 151.967 people were fired from their jobs, 136.995 people were taken into custody, and 77.524 people were arrested.

Together with the Decree no 637 published in the Official Gazette within the scope of the Olağanüstü Hal (abbrev. OHAL, State of Emergency), the passports of the wives and children of the people, were cancelled due to safety concerns, due to being dangerous towards general safety of the community by the Ministry of Interior. The families, whose passports are cancelled, and pending trial, leave their own country through the Evros River. The members of the Gülen Movement are forced to leave their countries and leave their assets, homes, and even their families behind.

These people escape from injustice and lawlessness today, and seek asylum in the countries where they don’t even know their languages.

Bloody Evros

480-kilometer long Evros River is the 10th longest river of Turkey. After irrigating the plains of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, the city of Edirne in Turkey, and west of Thrace, the river flows into the Aegean Sea. The river, which is accepted as one of the longest rivers in Europe, virtually swallows the refugees.

 Hasan Aksoy, a dismissed teacher, lost his wife Sena Aksoy and his son Y. Baha Aksoy on Sunday in Aegean Sea, was detained by police even before he could see the corpses of his beloved ones.

Hasan Aksoy, a dismissed teacher, lost his wife Sena Aksoy and his son Y. Baha Aksoy on Sunday in Aegean Sea, was detained by police even before he could see the corpses of his beloved ones.

The Evros River turned into a refugee cemetery since the Syrian War, which started in 2011. Although the journeys were done widely by the refugees coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, an increasing number of Turkish people also joined among the ones who try to cross the Evros River. Tens of thousands of people, who run away from their own country after the so-called 15 July 2016 coup attempt İn Turkey, try to seek their freedom on the boats of death. The people are at human traffickers’ mercy while trying to cross into Greece on rambling boats in most cases. The stories of the ones who go aboard are familiar; they start an ambiguous journey since they see the lethal results of the Erdogan Regime, which sometimes end up even with tortures.

According to the information revealed by the Greek website News 24/7, 10 Turkish people cross illegally into Greece per day. According to the numbers revealed by the Greek police authorities, 4.000 refugees crossed into Greece from the Turkish border through the Evros River in April. The number had been revealed as 1.262 in last March. The unregistered number of people who used the Evros River or the Turkish refugees who died while trying to cross into Greece are not exactly known. 6 years ago, dead bodies of the Syrian babies were washing ashore. Nowadays, the news publish the death of the Turkish babies in Evros every day. They risk their lives while trying to escape from the violation of their rights to reach the shores of Greece, which is 20 kilometers away according to bird’s eye view.

The ones who get under way dream of reaching to a European country as soon as possible, because of hopelessness and desperation. They start a one-way journey on a route full of darkness. If they turn out to be lucky and step foot into Europe, they gain the luxury to live in a camp which harbors many people from many different nations, and smells of garbage and toilet in the countries where they gain freedom as strangers

The time in the camp takes up to 25 days for the refugees who manage to reach the camp without getting lost in Evros. For the members of the Movement, the processing time could take up to 2 or 3 days. The camp procedures are applied faster to the members of the Gulen Movement.

All of the Human Rights Organizations must fight to lift the cancellations of the passports, and open the borders for the people to avoid the tragedies and save even one life.

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Dr. Deniz Zengin
Dr. Deniz Zengin
Deniz Zengin is a journalist and a doctoral researcher focusing on Human Rights and Refugee and Immigration issues.
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