Syrians in Türkiye… anticipation of the election results and fear of deportation
“Yes, we are afraid and our hands are on our hearts as to what the election results will lead to.” This phrase appears to be the almost common denominator among most Syrian refugees in Turkey. These people are awaiting the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections that Turkey will be witnessing on Sunday, especially since their fate is linked to its results after all parties, i.e. the authority and the opposition, agree on the return of refugees to their country. The difference remains over the method and duration of return or the rights that should be given to Syrians after many of them have integrated into Turkish society. Fear extends to those who obtained Turkish citizenship, and their number is estimated at about 200,000, according to official sources.
From Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, Omar Orabi (27 years old), who works in a soap factory, expresses his great fear of being expelled from work if the opposition wins, because the latter will pursue Syrian workers, especially unregistered ones, which means cutting off his livelihood and increasing the restrictions on him, so that he will be forcibly returned to Syrian.
Orabi, who spent six years working and his wages reached the minimum wage of 8,500 liras (about 435 US dollars), believes that Turkey is the solution to his future, after he mastered the language, established social relations, and accepted his surroundings because of his dedication to work and his commitment to customs and traditions, as he tells Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. “. He hopes that other refugees will not be a card to satisfy the Turkish racists or those calling for the expulsion of the Syrians, pointing out that his region of Nizip in the state of Gaziantep has rarely suffered from the racism that he heard about in Istanbul or Ankara.
Not far from the Turkish border with Syria, where about 1.7 million Syrian refugees live in ten southern states, Baraa Mahmoud (24 years old), who hails from Idlib governorate, says, “All indications indicate that there is a real danger imminent to the Syrians. The general Turkish mood is It no longer accepts Syrians after 11 years of asylum, and the people of Reyhanli in Antakya have changed a lot with us.In the past we were immigrants and they were supporters in every sense of the word.The houses were available for rent at nominal prices and we saw love and help in everyone’s eyes.But the situation changed successively after the murders The number and large number of refugees, and after they sensed the seriousness and skill of the Syrians, some attributed to us the cause of unemployment, and others accused us of running out of goods and high prices.” He adds, “We have become an excuse for everything that happened to them in terms of their living conditions.”
Mahmoud, who is studying at the Faculty of Economics and is not fully committed to “supporting myself and securing the requirements of the study,” conveys to “Al-Araby Al-Jadeed” the sensitivity of Syrian students, even within the university, and the many rumors despite the fact that Syrians pay tuition like any other expatriate to Turkey, “but we are accused of studying for free.” We go to university with the help of the government, not with our competencies.”
Regarding his fears about the election results, he says that the future of the Syrians in Turkey “has become bad, apart from the election results,” because government decisions cannot dictate on the Turkish street how to deal with the Syrians. “Unfortunately, most Turks hated us because of the incitement led by opposition parties and personalities over two years.”
Concern increases among the Syrians in Istanbul, who are estimated to number about 542,000. Ghusun Ibrahim, 32, says that the campaigns to pursue and refrain from renting homes to Syrians are at their strongest, adding that the rent for my house in Baggolar increased from two thousand (about one hundred dollars) to 4,500 pounds (about 230 dollars).
Ghosoun, who works in a sewing workshop and earns the minimum, says that her salary is barely sufficient for her and her family. Her husband, who works in a factory and has a work permit, is forced to send monthly aid to his family in the countryside of Aleppo. However, she says that living in Turkey is a thousand times better than living in the liberated areas, as “I have been prevented from working, and we do not have a house or agricultural lands.” It calls for staying in Türkiye and not being forcibly deported under one pretext or another. She adds, “We work more than the Turks and pay less. Therefore, the employers stick to us.”
In the Altin Dag district of the capital, Ankara, Aisha al-Jassem (48 years old) says: “We are the most miserable among the Syrians in Turkey. Here we are under the spotlight in light of the problems and the murders. We may be at the top of the list of deportations to northern Syria after the elections, regardless of their results.” The family depends on their two children to live, noting that “my husband became disabled after he was wounded in the battles of the revolution, and we receive little aid because of my husband’s disability.” She talks about the rise in hatred, the increase in rents, and the Turkish community’s intolerance of Syrians.
The acquisition of Turkish citizenship by some Syrians did not protect them from bullying and hatred. “We are under the spotlight more than the refugees, especially after the opposition said that we had obtained citizenship as a result of buying real estate, and its promises to suspend this exception issued by the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party,” said real estate trader Hassan Muhammad, 52, in Asniyot. In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he points out that the Syrians from the poor or the middle class who obtained citizenship “have lost and not gained. It is true that they are immune from deportation, but they have lost all refugee aid and free treatment in government hospitals. They only get treatment after paying an allowance.” health insurance”.
He continues that well-to-do Syrians impose their existence through nationality and money, and there is no doubt that they will have their own bases and perhaps a political and economic future. He believes that language proficiency and good relations are prerequisites for Syrian aspirants, and we may see candidates of Syrian origin in the upcoming elections.
On the other hand, the Syrian Adnan Fadel (53 years old) says that the Turkish citizenship allowed him to work in an official Turkish department and opened the way for his children to study in schools and universities as the Turks do. However, his material condition is modest, like that of the Turks, who were affected by inflation. He points out that the stability of Turkey is his main demand, hoping that the elections will pass smoothly because, in his opinion, the upcoming elections are the most difficult and dangerous for the country, in light of the European bias towards the opposition and the tensions that have begun to escalate in the street. “Our first and last hope is that Türkiye will remain stable and continue to grow and strengthen.”
For his part, university professor Nasser Aydin says that obtaining citizenship harmed him, as his teaching contract as a foreigner was terminated after he obtained it. In exchange, he was given a passport that allowed him to travel around more than 90 countries without a visa. He hopes that the election results will not affect the conditions and stability of the Syrian refugees, pointing out that all Turkish parties used them as an electoral card, with differences over the duration and method of deportation. He believes that Turkey will not be a permanent home for all Syrians, but that return must be linked to stability and the removal of the danger of arrest and killing. He told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed about many abuses committed by employees against refugees during the last period. Hate speech and racism against “our simple oppressed people” also rose, wishing that these appearances and behaviors would disappear after the elections, and that Syrians would be treated as refugees with rights and duties.
Turkish researcher Muslim Uysal says that some Turkish parties and personalities “unfortunately used the Syrians as a card during the elections,” and held them responsible for inflation, unemployment and high prices, without referring to the tragic situation of the Syrians or what they provide to the economy, hoping that those manifestations that fueled hatred and racism will disappear after The election. He added to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “It is likely that we will witness another approach after the elections, and it may not coincide with the electoral promises that focused on deporting the Syrians. But whatever the results, the issue of the Syrian refugees in Turkey must be resolved.”
Uysal points out the need to respect the election rules and customs of the Turks, especially since about 200,000 of them are entitled to vote, “and this particular issue raises concern in Turkey.”
For his part, the Syrian researcher who holds Turkish citizenship, Samir Abdullah, says: “It is the wrath of fate that the fate of the Syrians is linked to the results of the elections in another country. It is not related to those residing in Turkey, but even to those residing in northern Syria. The new Turkish president is the one who will determine The fate of the Turkish forces in those areas, and thus the fate of the Syrian opposition residing there, the future of Turkish support for the Syrian opposition, and the fate of the opposition institutions present there, which will affect the future of the solution in Syria in general.
In response to a question about what the Syrians expect from the next president, he explains in his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that, “Regardless of the winner of the elections, the temporary protection law must be reviewed, to which the word temporary no longer applies after nearly 10 years of its implementation, with All related issues have become a concern for Syrians, such as travel permission, closed neighborhoods, employment, etc. In addition to the above, a clear and declared strategy must be drawn up to manage the file of Syrians and their future in Turkey, with the application of international laws and agreements signed by Turkey related to preventing refoulement and deportation.
The most important thing, in Abdullah’s opinion, is to put an end to the hate speech and racism directed against Syrian refugees by some parties to obtain electoral gains. Once the election is over, some of the inciting voices may be silenced, but they will not go away. Therefore, laws must be enacted to combat racism and hate speech. Perhaps high hopes for the next president. But by reviewing the promises of the candidates and the electoral programs of the parties, it seems that things will not be as many Syrians hoped.
Keeping the Syrians away from the differences
Syrian teacher Manal Abboud says that the differences between the Turkish authorities and parties “have been paid by the Syrians,” hoping to deal with the Syrians humanely. “It is enough for us that about 11,000 Syrian teachers were dismissed from work.” She adds that the Syrians hope that Turkey will remain strong and stable, especially since it has supported the Syrians since the beginning of their revolution, and no one can deny this. Unfortunately, the situation has changed in recent years, and Syrians are being harassed to return to their unsafe areas.
For his part, jurist and human rights researcher Taha al-Ghazi believes that the general and constant demand is to keep the Syrians’ reality out of the field of politics and not to use them as an internal or external political card. Unfortunately, we have witnessed during the past years the refugee card being used by opposition parties to put pressure on the government. At the same time, the government did not fail to use the Syrians as a card to put pressure on the European Union. Therefore, the refugee file must be kept away from debates and disputes.”
Al-Ghazi continues that the refugees’ fears are legitimate and result from the promises made by some leaders of those opposition parties during the election period or before, and related to the return of Syrian refugees to their country, in addition to racism and hate speech by opposition figures, as some opposition alliances support the causes of the Syrians, noting He pointed out that hate speech is not only linked to opposition parties, but also to the ruling party and its changing vision of the refugee file.
Al-Ghazi concludes by saying, “One of the most prominent fears of the Syrians is also normalization with the Bashar al-Assad regime. In the past, this demand was from the opposition, but it moved to the ruling party after meetings with the regime’s delegations in Russia, which is a disaster for the Syrians,” expecting the activation of the Syrian Kassab crossing. In the future, establishing joint centers between the Assad regime and Turkey for the return of Syrians to the areas of the regime.