Turkey deports Syrians to war-torn Idlib amid rising racism
Turkish police have deported a Syrian teenager from Istanbul to northern Syria despite his possession of a temporary protection identity card, known as a Kimlik, which is issued to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Speaking from Syria, Amjad Tablieh, aged 18, told The New Arab’s affiliate Syria TV on Saturday that he had left his home in Istanbul to buy goods, without taking his Kimlik card with him.
He was stopped by Turkish police, who asked him for his card. He told them that he would call his family, who would bring it within 15 minutes.
However, the policemen refused to wait and took him with other Syrian youth to the local Tuzla police station, where they were forced to sign papers that were unexplained to them.
Tablieh told Syria TV that he and the other youth were beaten and insulted by the police, who also confiscated their mobile phones.
The Syrian youth were then told that they would be transported to Turkey’s southern Hatay province, near the border with Syria, and spent 19 hours travelling there on a coach, where they were only given one piece of bread to eat and water every six hours.
They could not inform their families about what was happening because of the confiscation of their phones.
When the coach finally stopped the group was shocked to find that they were at the Sadaqah border crossing near the town of Salqin in northern Idlib province.
Idlib province, which is held by the Syrian opposition, has been under assault by the Assad regime since late April despite a ceasefire signed in September 2018. Over 600 civilians have been killed there and more than 330,000 have been made homeless due to airstrikes and shelling.
Refugees from the fighting have been forced to seek shelter in fields and olive groves because there is no room for them in local refugee camps. Turkey, which was previously an option for many, is no longer taking in Syrian refugees.
The deportation of the group comes amid an increase in racist incidents against Syrian refugees in Turkey, following the Istanbul mayoral elections which were won by the opposition CHP party. Both the CHP and the ruling AKP spoke against Syrian refugees in their election campaign in an effort to win votes.
There have been conflicting reports about the number of Syrian refugees deported from Turkey to Idlib province in recent days, but the Syrian Step News Agency on Sunday reported 400 refugees arrived in Idlib from the neighbouring country.
Videos circulating online showed young Syrian men handcuffed on a bus in preparation for deportation.
However, the Turkey-based Syrian Associations Forum said Turkey would soon be issuing decrees to halt deportation of Syrians and will allegedly allow those who have been deported to return.
A total of 3.8 million Syrian refugees have sought refuge in Turkey since 2011 as a result of the Syrian conflict, which began with the brutal suppression of peaceful protests by the Assad regime and has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since then.
Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab