Syrian Turkmens, who flee from the refugee camps and prefer to live in the public gardens, fields, parks and streets in Istanbul, claim that they are oppressed by a majority of Arab refugees in the camps due to their ethnicity and madhab.
When the Turkish government sent an official paper to 81 provinces with the instruction “Gathering Syrian Refugees into the Camps”, we talked to the refugees who mostly prefer to stay in the public gardens and streets in Istanbul without any shelters. Saying that they fled from the refugee camps on the border and came to Istanbul, the refugees complained that they felt displeased and unsatisfied in the camps because they were discomforted and suppressed by a majority of Arab refugees due to the difference of madhab and ethnicity.
Bekir Atalay, the deputy prime minister, explained that they would gather Syrian refugees in the streets and take them to the refugee camps back. Upon this, we talked to a group of Syrian refugees who live in a public garden under a tent in Örnektepe, Istanbul. The refugees say that they are Syrian Turkmens and discriminated in the refugee camps. And they claim they are unwanted by the Arab refugees due to their ethnicity and madhab. So they prefer to flee and live away from the camps.
“Arab Refugees Discriminate Us”
Selva Mahmud, mother of six children, says that Turkmens are misbehaved by the other refugees just due to their ethnicity, and she narrates: “We were good before the civil war. When the war came to the boil, we left Syria so as to protect our families and be safe. We came to Turkey eight months ago. When we arrived in Turkey, we first stayed in the refugee camps. However, with time, Arabs staying in the camps started to discomfort us. So we think that the refugee camps are dangerous for Turkmens at this moment. As Turkmens, we lived in Aleppo among Arabs in friendship and brotherhood before the war. After the civil war broke out, they started to see us like enemies, and inflicted us. When the camps turned into a place of discrimination, we had to leave and left at the end. We would like to stay in the refugee camps, but there is no place and peace for us there. The refugee camps include clean beds and hot meals, but we avoid being discriminated by the Arab refugees.
“We Want a Separate Camp for Turkmens”
Ahmet Halif, one of the refugees who stays in tent on the public garden, pointing out that Turkmens and Arabs have difficulty in living in the same refuge camps, says: “My family came to Turkey six months ago. When we arrived in the refugee camps, Arab refugees didn’t want us to stay near them. We can’t give meaning to this because we stayed in the same cities with Arabs, and we were neighbours with them. We did not have any trouble with them before the civil war. After all, due to the civil war and agitation of the opposition parties in Syria, all ethnicities and madhabs see each other as enemies now, which is a sort of fitna among Muslims. Now, the Turkish authorities want to take us to the refugee camps, but we don’t. If they set a separate refugee camp for Turkmens, we are ready to go. You see our families are miserable in the public gardens and parks.”
Most of Them Stay in Istanbul
According to the database of ministry of internal affairs of Turkey, the number of Syrian refugees who flee from their country and refuge in Turkey is 1.385.000. According to the statistics, 330.000 Syrians moved to Istanbul. On the other hand, there are 220.000 Syrians in Gaziantep, and 190.000 in Hatay provinces. The Ministry gathers all Syrian refugees, who live out of the refugee camps, and also collect Syrian beggars who panhandle in the streets of Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Bursa, Adana, Mersin, Konya, Antalya and Kayseri. Most of Syrian refugees work in construction sector as workers.
An Academic Study on Syrian Refugees in Adana
According to a social study in university, Syrian refugees who settled in Adana generally have a job, send their children to Turkish schools. However, according to the questionnaire, 44.2 percent of people in Adana think that the rate of theft and crime increased due to the Syrian refugees. Increasing rent prices are also linked with immigration of Syrian refugees in Adana. 30 percent of people think that there is a recovery in trade and commerce due to the Syrian refugees. The refugees are also seen to be low-cost labour in Adana. The 63.2 percent of people joining the questionnaire in Adana think that Syrian refugees should stay in Turkey till the civil war ends in Syria.
03.08.2014, Revised by Turkomania from Vatan’s News (Reporter: Oğuz Yeter).
Turkmen Refugees Under Difficult Conditions
The following photos taken by Radikal Newspaper depicts an unofficial camp of Turkmen refugees in Istanbul, dated to 28 April, 2014: