Tag Archives: turkey


A police building in Diyarbakir, south-east Turkey, where there was a suicide bomb attack last Friday. When the attack took place, several (pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party) HDP politicians were being held inside

You may recall a post in January, co-written by researchers Francis O’Connor and Semih Celik, about how certain academics in Turkey had been arrested, detained and beaten.

It followed the signing of an open letter – by 1,128 professors, researchers and students from Turkey and around the world – calling for an end to state violence in the Kurdish region of south east Turkey.

Readers may also recall the failed coup in Turkey during the summer.

Further to this, Francis, from Limerick, writes:

The political situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate in the wake of the attempted coup d’état in July 2016, allegedly organized by the Gülen Movement, a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

It has, in fact, led to a slow incremental counter-coup where Erdogan and his cronies have progressively jailed, marginalized and silenced opponents of all hues — but especially the Kurdish movement.

The botched coup has conceded the Erdogan regime the pretext to arrest 80,000 suspects, 40,000 of whom remain in custody, while forcing the shutdown of more than 150 publications, the firing of more than 100,000 civil servants and the re-staffing of the army’s upper echelons with Erdogan loyalists.

It has also furnished Erdogan with the opportunity to eradicate his principal political opponent, the pro-Kurdish, leftist People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which had been hindering his assumption of complete parliamentary control. Erdogan’s campaign culminated in the arrest of twelve HDP MPs, including its co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag last Friday.

The HDP had no role in the coup attempt. The party immediately repudiated the coup — it was even commended for its stance at the time by Erdogan’s puppet Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim. In spite of Erdogan’s calculated sabotage in 2015 of the peace process, which had been intended to bring an end to the conflict between the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state, there was no Kurdish support for the 2016 coup.

Indeed, many of the senior military figures who have subsequently been unveiled as the coup’s instigators were directly involved in the brutal counter-insurgency in Kurdistan in the recent past.

Nonetheless, since July, the Erdogan regime has used emergency rule legislation to relentlessly target all elements of the pro-Kurdish political spectrum. A range of municipally-funded grassroots cooperatives have had all financial support stopped. Language schools were shut down and 1,000 Kurdish teachers were fired. Even Zarok TV, a Kurdish language TV station for children, was closed.

In September, the government passed a decree that dismissed 28 municipal governments and replaced them with directly appointed trustee governors. Twenty-four of the 28 municipalities were in Kurdistan and under the control of the HDP’s local sister party, the DBP.

Currently, around 30 elected Kurdish mayors are in prison and a further 70 have been fired. This blatant interference in local governance overrode the democratically expressed wishes of the millions of Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities in Kurdistan that voted for their municipal authorities. In October, the co-mayors of Diyarbakir Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli were arrested on multiple trumped-up charges, including facilitating the return of Kurdish guerrillas’ bodies for burial.

However, the arrest of the high-profile and internationally recognised HDP leadership is a marked escalation by the Turkish government. It does admittedly follow in Turkey’s notorious tradition of both legal and extra-legal victimization of the Kurdish parliamentary party since the 1990s.

Violence against the HDP and its supporters peaked in the summer 2015 when the party passed the 10 percent electoral threshold for the first time to take its place in the Turkish parliament. Its presence in parliament denied Erdogan the possibility of the overall majority required to amend the constitution to transform the Turkish government into a presidential system, wherein he would personally have hugely enhanced powers at the expense of the assembly.

A report by Turkish human rights organization IHD confirmed that 114 attacks were conducted against the HDP in the lead-up to the June election, resulting in 47 injuries. There was also an ISIS bombing of a HDP rally in Diyarbakir, which killed three party supporters and injured hundreds. The violence intensified after the election with a series of ISIS bomb attacks against the HDP in Suruc and Ankara, which resulted in huge casualties.

Although, it remains to be confirmed, there are strong grounds for suspicion that elements within the Turkish security forces colluded with ISIS or at least had forewarning of these attacks.

Furthermore, in autumn 2015, the Turkish security forces launched a huge military campaign to dislodge Kurdish youths affiliated to the PKK from a number of Kurdish city centers. The campaign resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and the destruction of a number of historic and culturally symbolic Kurdish city centres.

The imprisonment of the HDP deputies should be seen as a continuation of Erdogan’s anti-Kurdish campaign, and will lead to the almost certain proscription of the party overall. Given the electoral balance of power in Kurdistan, it is evident that the AKP will obtain the ousted HDP’s seats allowing the AKP, with the potential support of the far-right MHP, to realize their vision of a reconfigured governmental structure, headed inevitably by Erdogan.

Aside from the domestic political developments, there is also a regional aspect to Erdogan’s strategy. Turkey has recently intervened in the Syrian civil war, ostensibly targeting ISIS but in reality dedicating all its efforts to combating the Syrian Defense Forces forces, aligned to the PKK’s sister party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Turkish forces have bombarded Kurdish positions in Syria and are evidently concerned with maintaining the Jarablus corridor, which prevents territorial contiguity between the three Kurdish cantons ruled by the Kurdish movement and its local allies in Rojava.

Turkey’s increasing military belligerence is rooted in a policy shift that favors the taking of pre-emptive action outside of Turkey’s borders to protect its self-defined interests. It has already launched Euphrates Shield to weaken the Kurds in Syria and is currently positioning itself to engage more broadly to “protect” Sunni and Turkmen in Mosul. The campaign against the Kurds outside Turkey’s borders must be considered as part of a regional anti-Kurdish strategy which targets not only the armed PKK and PYD but also the parliamentary Kurdish representatives.

It remains to be seen how the Kurdish movement will respond to these recent developments. On November 4, a suicide bomb attack was launched against a police building [in Diyarbakir] where many of the HDP deputies had been detained. Two of them, Figen Yüksekdag and Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, were actually in the building at the time of the attack, and local DBP politician Recai Altay was fatally wounded. The bombing was claimed by ISIS (interestingly, they have not publicly claimed any of its previous attacks within Turkey).

The HDP immediately issued a statement demanding that the police release all information regarding the attack. At the very least, it seems to have been a remarkable coincidence that an ISIS bomber would target this particular building shortly after some of the HDP’s most prominent politicians were held there. To add to the confusion, a PKK splinter group named TAK has also claimed the attack and apologized for Altay’s death.

Aside from this bombing, there has not been a marked upsurge in violence — but with the closure of any institutional political avenues it seems only a question of time before Kurdish political frustrations are channelled toward the PKK and its armed forces.

Through her lawyer, Yüksekdag released the following brief statement:

Despite everything, they can’t consume our hope, or break our resistance. Whether in prison or not, the HDP and us, we are still Turkey’s only option for to freedom and democracy. And that’s why they are so afraid of us. Do not, not a single one of you, allow yourself to be demoralized, do not drop your guard, do not weaken your resistance. Do not forget that this hatred and aggression is rooted in fear. Love and courage will definitely win.

Her courage and hopefulness can only be admired, but without prospects of any peaceful stabilisation of the conflict, it would be unrealistic to speak of resolution at this stage.

As the respected Turkish intellectual Cengiz Candar put it, “with what happened in the last week, Turkey is steadily moving on the road to fascism.”

It seems that an EU associate member and NATO member is heading toward outright dictatorship — to the broad indifference of the European Union. In the absence of concerted international pressure on Turkey to rein in Erdogan’s megalomaniacal authoritarianism, the only plausible outcome is further and much more extensive violence.

Francis O’Connor is from Monagea, close to Newcastle West in Co. Limerick, and he has completed a PhD at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has worked on the conflict in Turkey between the PKK and the Turkish state and is currently an external collaborator of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence. His research interests include social movements and political violence.

HDP arrests: on the road to dictatorship in Turkey (Roar)

Previously: Turkish Repression

Pic: AFP


This afternoon.

The Embassy of Turkey, Raglan Road, Dublin 4

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at a solidarity event for the silencing of journalists in Turkey since last month’s failed ‘coup’.

Trade union official Seamus Dooley (in brown jacket) along with available members of the NUJ’s Irish Executive Council and National Executive Council met with the  First Counsellor of the Turkish Embassy to express dismay at the crackdown.

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 13.02.46Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 13.06.51

A recently aired segment of Turkish TV channel ATV’s Ana Haber news programme, a reporter reads from a notebook of ‘secret codes’ allegedly found in the trash of Gülenists and used in the anti-Erdogan coup.

They’re Grand Theft Auto IV cheat codes.





Above from left: Liam van Der Spek, Grace Williams and Dearbhla Quinn all from Labour Youth

This afternoon.

Turkish Embassy, Raglan Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Members of Labour Youth deliver a letter of protest against the detention of 13 CHP Youth activists in Turkey this week. The arrests came two weeks after the purported coup against Turkish president Erdogan

CHP Youth are the youth wing of the secularist Republican People’s Party Republican People’s Party, who are the Labours sister party in Turkey.



From top: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Ankara’s main square after a coup d’etat, September 12, 1980.

To wash our hands of the Turkish crisis would be a mistake.

Eamon Delaney writes:

Three years ago, I wrote about Turkish leader Erdogan and how his authoritarian tendencies were threatening not only Turkey but also the near east and the country’s application for EU membership.

‘Imperious Leader has gone too far with his strange edicts’ was the prescient headline.

Well, now we will find out just how far Erdogan will go.

The Turkish President has reacted furiously to the failed coup against him by dismissing and jailing tens of thousands of military personnel and officials. He is now moving on to the courts and the schools.

Of course, the strange edicts of Erdogan have led to this. But his proposals of three years ago (a partial ban on alcohol, and on the wearing of bright lipsticks by Turkish Air stewardesses!) are trifling compared to his attempts since then to consolidate powers in a revised Presidency.

Protests have come from secular activists, but also from followers of Fethullah Gulen, the mystic cleric, who has fallen out with Erdogan and alleges corruption by the Turkish regime. Turkey blames the elderly Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, of fomenting the coup from afar and want the US to extradite him.

Basically, Erdogan cannot believe that anyone can disagree with him and wants to return the country to the strong man leadership of the country’s founder Ataturk or even the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. In fairness, he has won continuous elections and has presided over an amazing economic revival in Turkey.

On a recent visit, it took me two hours to get to the airport from central Istanbul such was the congestion of shiny new cars circling the Bosphorus.

But my jubilant taxi driver wouldn’t hear of any complaints and pointed to his AKP election stickers (Erdogan’s ruling party). This prosperity has provoked a new pride – but also new demands and challenges.

So, for the rest us, this crisis couldn’t be happening at a worse time. We rely on Turkey, a major NATO member, in the fight against ISIS and in dealing with war-torn Syria, as well as on coping with the refugee crisis, as shown by the financial deal it did with the EU.

Can the West control the situation and control Erdogan, and restrain his vengeance? It has to be done. Otherwise, we are in real trouble.

And it would endanger what has been created in Turkey itself, which is an amazing, vibrant culture and the ideal crossover between East and West, and between the Islamic world and a mainly Christian Europe.

Huge advances have been made in trade, art, fashion and culture and even in human rights, as well as in recognising the rights of the country’s Kurdish minority, although a guerrilla war continues with the Kurdish PKK terror group. Young Turks often ask me whether the Northern Ireland peace process offers an example of a way out.

Some would say that the crisis shows the damage that can be done by just one ruler, in the shape of Erdogan, or indeed Putin in Russia. But, like Putin, Erdogan remains very popular and has had to tend with a scheming and dangerous political landscape, and with dangerous neighbours.

For the West, and the EU in particular, the reaction should be to stay close to the situation and exert what influence it has as a restraint on a Turkey that still craves a European association. To wash our hands of the Turkish crisis, or to impose sanctions or isolation, would be a mistake.

The irony is that the recent coup in Turkey was done ostensibly to ‘protect democracy’.

In Turkey, the army has traditionally been a bulwark for secularisation. This was the legacy of the country’s founder Ataturk, who much to the delight of the West, kept Turkey in the Western camp. But he was a dictator too.

Indeed in 1980, after a period of political chaos, the army staged a coup and imposed order. And, on New Year’s Eve 1981, when martial law was lifted for the first time since, I was among the many young backpackers in Istanbul who joined in the celebrations! It was quite a party. The soldiers were cheered as heroes, who had rescued Turkey from instability and ‘backward’ Islam.

Turkey has come a long way since then. It has advanced economically but is has also become more Islamic in a moderate way which is probably a more accurate manifestation of society than Ataturk’s repressive secularism.

Erdogan’s wife is veiled, for example. But his Islam is a long way from the radicalised Islam of the ISIS or the Gulf States. Turkey is, as Irish travellers well testify, almost entirely Westernised.

However, the Turkish President is volatile. He has reacted furiously to social media, stormed off the stage at a Davos discussion on Israel and gave the go-ahead for the downing of a Russian jet.

The hope would be that his shrewdness and common sense would prevail and he would see that any further overreaction would endanger him, as well as Turkey and the region. However, on current evidence, that realisation clearly hasn’t come yet.

Now that the UK has left EU (what timing!) it is really left to the Germans to fashion a response. Germany has a huge Turkish community and should be familiar with the culture there, including the political landscape. Being sympathetic but firm should be the approach – and not letting Turkey slip way.

Otherwise, we are facing turmoil in the near East and an end to meaningful cooperation on refugees and jihadis – the last chance that a shaken Europe needs right now.

Eamon Delaney is an author, former diplomat and founder member of think tank Hibernia Forum.

Washing our hands of Turkey’s crisis would mean chaos in the Near East (Eamon Delaney)


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey will temporarily suspend the European Convention on Human Rights after announcing a state of emergency following the attempted coup.

…Earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the three-month state of emergency in Turkey would enable authorities to act quicker and more efficiently against the coup plotters.

Meanwhile, around 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended, detained or put under investigation since the coup was defeated.

Seems legit.

Turkey suspends European Convention on Human Rights in wake of coup (Independent.co.uk)

Turkish Lawmakers Set to Give Erdogan Sweeping New Powers (New York Times)

Pic: AFP/Getty

Thanks Fluffybiscuits

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A Human Rights Watch video, which contains graphic content, about Syrian people being shot by Turkish border police

You may recall how last month, The Times reported how eight Syrians were shot at the Syrian-Turkey border by Turkish border police.

Further to this…

In a new report, Human Rights Watch writes:

During March and April 2016, Turkish border guards used violence against Syrian asylum seekers and smugglers, killing five people, including a child, and seriously injuring 14 others, according to victims, witnesses, and Syrian locals interviewed by Human Rights Watch. Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Ministry maintains the country has an “open-door policy” for Syrian refugees, despite building a new border wall.

“While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling.”

…The hostilities continue to threaten Syrians already displaced by fighting. According to witnesses, at around 5 p.m. on May 5, three airstrikes hit the Kamuna camp sheltering 4,500 displaced Syrians near Sarmada in northern Idlib province, five kilometers from Turkey’s increasingly impenetrable border.

An independent humanitarian source in Turkey told Human Rights Watch that medics recovered 20 bodies, including two children, and that at least 37 people were injured, including 10 who lost one or more limbs and who were transferred to Turkey for medical care.

…Human Rights Watch interviewed victims and witnesses involved in seven incidents between the first week of March and April 17, in which Turkish border guards shot dead three asylum seekers (one man, one woman, and a 15-year-old boy) and one smuggler; beat to death one smuggler; shot and injured eight asylum seekers, including three children, aged 3, 5, and 9; and severely assaulted six asylum seekers.

Syrians living near the border also described the aftermaths of the shootings and beatings, including Turkish border guards firing at them as they tried to recover bodies at the border wall. One witness filmed a number of the dead and surviving victims and shared the videos with Human Rights Watch.

As of early April, Turkey had completed a third of its 911-kilometer rocket-resistant concrete wall along its border with Syria and was working to fortify the rest of its border.

Turkey is entitled to secure its border with Syria, but is obliged to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits rejecting asylum seekers at borders when that would expose them to the threat of persecution, torture, and threats to life and freedom.

Turkey is also obliged to respect international norms on use of lethal force as well as the rights to life and bodily integrity, including the absolute prohibition on subjecting anyone to inhuman and degrading treatment.

…The violence against Syrian refugees, and Turkey’s refusal to allow them to cross the border, comes as the European Union has shut its own borders to asylum seekers.

In March, the EU concluded a controversial migration deal with Ankara to curb refugee and migration flows to Europe, committing €6 billion in aid to assist Syrians in Turkey, reinvigorating Turkey’s EU membership negotiations, and offering the prospect of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.

The deal provides for Europe to return migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, including Syrians, who reach Greece by boat, on the grounds that Turkey is a safe country for them.

The deal also commits the EU to work with Turkey to create areas inside Syria that will be “more safe.”

The EU shouldn’t just stand by and watch as Turkey uses live ammunition and rifle butts to stem the refugee flow,” said Simpson. “EU officials should recognize that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go.”

Meanwhile, in The Guardian, Patrick Kingsley reports:

Hundreds of non-Syrian asylum seekers deported under the EU-Turkey migration deal were not allowed to claim asylum in either Greece or Turkey, a group of European politicians has claimed.

After interviewing 40 of the deportees, the three MEPs have concluded that, despite EU promises, the deal with Turkey is not being enacted according to international law.

“All refugees interviewed told us they were not given the opportunity to ask for asylum, neither in Greece nor in Turkey,” Cornelia Ernst, Marina Albiol and Josu Juaristi said in a report released to journalists after they visited two detention centres in northern Turkey. “All said they did not know what will happen to them, and had received no information since they had arrived in Turkey.”

The trio are the first independent observers to corroborate the UN refugee agency’s earlier claims that some of the refugees were sent back to Turkey by mistake.

Turkey: Border Guards Kill and Injure Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch)

Non-Syrians denied asylum claims under EU-Turkey deal – MEPs (Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian)

Previously: One Love



From top: A still from mobile phone footage obtained by The Times of a Syrian man carrying his son, who was shot in both legs, by Turkish border police; Bono with Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu 

You may recall reports in The Times yesterday detailing how eight Syrians were shot at the Syrian-Turkey border by Turkish border police, as they attempted to reach Turkey on Sunday.

The newspaper reported:

Abdmunem Kashkash, a lawyer from Aleppo who was with the group but managed to cross into Turkey unharmed, said that they had been waiting in the border area for several days while trying to cross and had come under fire from the Turks every day.

“They are killing unarmed people,” Mr Kashkash said. “There was one little girl who was shot and we could not do more for her for four hours, until nightfall. An old man and woman are missing — they have probably been killed too.”

The wounded have been taken to a hospital in Azaz, a rebel-held Syrian town next to the Turkish border that is sheltering 100,000 displaced people who have fled the regime and Isis advances since February. Isis is closing in on the town from the east, but despite calls from aid agencies the Turkish government is refusing to open the border gate.

Readers may also recall how earlier this month – before the deportations from Greece to Turkey began on April 4 – Bono and a delegation of US senators and congressmen visited a Syrian refugee camp in Gaziantep province, in southeast Turkey.

After the visit, Bono paid to tribute to Turkey for hosting 2.7million Syrian refugees, telling Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu:

“I am very humbled by the generosity of the Turkish people. It is extraordinary. It is a lesson in grace.”

Bono’s comments came just a week after Amnesty International reported that, hours after the EU-Turkey deal on Friday, March 18, Turkey forcibly returned around 30 Afghan asylum seekers to Afghanistan – without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum.

Further to this…

Harry Browne writes:

Bono’s concern for the plight of refugees, while undoubtedly genuine, would be more credible if he weren’t simultaneously offering cover to European leaders who deny asylum-seekers their basic legal rights.

Recently Turkey was rightly criticized for taking payments to accept refugees who should have been in the hands of the EU asylum system.

The same week, Bono was photographed with Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and called the Turkish role “a lesson in grace,” even while Amnesty International was accusing Turkey of forcing other refugees back into Syria.

It’s getting to be a habit with Bono, who warmly embraced George W. Bush and Tony Blair while they waged an illegal, immoral war on Iraq.

Bono has quite a voice: what a shame he so often uses it to sing the praises of powerful, disingenuous leaders.

Harry Browne is a lecturer at the School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology and is the author of The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power)

Syrian children shot dead by Turkish border guards (The Times, April 20, 2016)

Related: Bono: Time to Think Bigger About the Refugee Crisis (New York Times)

Previously: Return To Sender

Human Rights Watch released a report today in relation to the deportations that have taken place from Greece to Turkey, as part of the EU/Turkey deal – of which Ireland has contributed €22million.

The report paid particular attention to Chios island where the UN claimed 13 people – 11 people from Afghanistan, and two people from the Democratic Republic of Congo – were wrongly deported on April 4.

The report states:

In visits to the VIAL detention center on Chios on April 7 and 8, Human Rights Watch spoke with 12 friends and one relative of 19 Afghans who were deported from Chios on April 4.

Based on those interviews and text messages exchanged between those interviewed and the deportees, Human Rights Watch documented an array of irregularities and violations.

The authorities did not inform people that they were going to be deported, did not tell them where they were being taken, and did not allow some of them to take their personal possessions.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, thirteen of those deported from Chios had expressed a desire to seek asylum in Greece, and that number could be higher,

The Greek authorities appear to have hurried the forced returns from Chios, and the 136 other deportations that day from the nearby island of Lesbos, to meet a publicized deadline for the start of returns under the ill-conceived EU-Turkey deal that went into effect on March 20, 2016.

That deal allows the return of asylum seekers to Turkey on the presumption that Turkey is safe for asylum seekers and refugees.

…The deportations from Chios began around midday on April 3, when Greek police at the VIAL detention facility took dozens of people to the main building [Tabakika] where police and Frontex register new arrivals, and where the Greek asylum service is located.

The authorities separated the 66 people they had identified for return, witnesses said. The 12 friends and one relative of the 19 deportees, who did not want their names published, told Human Rights Watch that the police had called people on the false pretext that they were to be registered, including for asylum.

“Salim,” a 24-year-old man from Afghanistan, said the police took three of his Afghan friends, Ilias Haqjo, Mohammad, and Reza (full names unknown), all between 20 and 25 years old, without their possessions.

“They came here and told them they have to go to register,” he said. “They left happy and when they came out the police were waiting for them…. If the guys knew they were going to be deported, they would have taken their bags, their papers, their money.”

On the other side, in Dikili, Turkey, the authorities hung blue tarps on the fence around the registration tents to block journalists and human rights monitors from contacting the deportees. The police commander at the area denied a Human Rights Watch request to access the site.

The deportees were then loaded onto buses and driven away. Police at the site told Human Rights Watch that they were headed to Kirklareli, near Edirne, and the media subsequently reported that the people deported from Greece were being held at the Pehlivankoy removal center in that town.

The deportees on the buses in Turkey, however, seemed not to know where exactly they were going. “Now we’re in the bus, they’re taking us to a camp,” Mohsen Ahmadi wrote his friend “Amir” around 3 p.m. “Why there?” “Amir” asked. “I don’t know, the camp is near Istanbul,” Ahmadi replied.

“When you arrive, let us know,” “Amir” wrote. “OK,” Ahmadi wrote back at 8:28 p.m., but that was the last message that “Amir” received.

Human Rights Watch collected the phone numbers of four of the people who were deported from Chios on April 4. As of April 18, none of them had replied to messages on Viber, the application they had been using. When called, three of the phones appeared to be shut off and one of the numbers was not working.

The legal basis of confiscating phones from people being deported, if any, remains unclear. Given that asylum seekers and migrants rely on their phones to stay informed and to keep in touch with family, such measures appear unnecessary and cruel, as well as a violation of the individuals’ personal property rights, Human Rights Watch said.

EU/Greece: First Turkey Deportations Riddled With Abuse (Human Rights Watch)

Previously: Meanwhile, On Chios

‘Is Our Response To Be Defined By Barbed Wire, Tear Gas And Rubber Bullets?’



The amount of powdered baby milk each infant in Vial allegedly gets every day

Further to the picture (above) circulating on social media last Thursday…

Patrick Kingsley, of The Guardian, reports:

Babies detained in Greece under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal are being denied access to adequate supplies of milk formula, refugees and aid workers have alleged.

Approximately 25 babies under the age of six months, whose mothers are unable to breastfeed, are being given roughly 100ml of milk formula just once a day on the island of Chios, according to photographs sent by detained refugees and testimonies provided by phone.

… A 35-year-old Afghan construction manager, detained in a detention centre on Chios since 21 March, said he had been forced to mix water with bread to stop his five-month-old daughter going hungry.

The man, who said he worked as a contractor for the British army in Afghanistan but asked not to named for fear of victimisation, said: “They are only giving us half a cup of milk for all 24 hours – but that’s not enough. There’s no more milk for lunch or dinner or during the night. This is a big problem. There are maybe 24 or 25 babies under six months.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which maintains a presence on Chios, confirmed the claim and said the number of infant children may even be higher. “It’s clear that baby milk [formula] is not being routinely distributed,” said Dan Tyler, the NRC’s protection and advocacy officer on Chios. “I did a series of meetings with refugees last week, and mothers brought up [the issue of] baby milk all the time.

Refugee babies detained on Greek island ‘not getting adequate milk’ (Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian)


Moria detention centre on Lesbos island this morning

You may recall yesterday’s deportation of 202 migrants from Lesbos and Chios islands in Greece to Turkey, with the assistance of 180 Frontex officers.

The deportations are a part of the €3billion EU/Turkey deal, of which Ireland is contributing €22million.

Last week the Department of Justice announced it will send three case workers from the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), and two members of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to the Greek islands.

The department said it is also considering a request from Frontex for border guards to assist them with the deportations – even though Ireland is not a member of Frontex.

Last night on RTÉ One’s Drivetime, Lesbos-based journalist Andrew Connolly spoke with Mary Wilson.

Mr Connolly said:

“I’ve just been at the Moria detention centre talking to Pakistanis… based on my conversations with some of them, it’s very, I find it difficult to believe that some of the deportees this morning might have even understood the concept of asylum.

Again it’s being claimed by the Greek authorities and the European Asylum Office and also the UNHCR they seem to be satisfied that everyone was told their rights but they didn’t claim asylum in Greece.”

Further to this, Patrick Kingsley, in The Guardian reports this afternoon that the UN has told how 13 of the 202 deported yesterday may not have been given the opportunity to seek asylum before they were deported – as police officers “forgot”.

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to seek asylum. Mr Kingsley reports:

Some of the first people to be deported from Greece under the terms of the EU-Turkey migration deal may not have been given the chance to claim for asylum, the UN refugee agency has said.

Police “forgot” to process the asylum claims of 13 of the 202 asylum seekers sent back to Turkey on Monday, the first day the deal was put into practice, according to Vincent Cochetel, director of UNHCR’s Europe bureau.

… Cochetel said on Tuesday that 13 Afghans and Congolese asylum seekers – who reached the Greek island of Chios after 20 March, and who were deported back to Turkey on Monday – were not allowed to formally register their asylum claims, due to administrative chaos on the island.

… Cochetel told the Guardian: “For four days after the 20th, the Greek police did not register any intention to seek asylum as they were no prepared [or] equipped for this, so we started providing forms to people who had declared their intention to seek asylum.”

“The police received most of the people with these forms and … forgot some apparently. It is more a mistake than anything else, we hope.”

…On Monday, more asylum seekers landed in Greece from Turkey (228) than were deported in the opposite direction (202).



Listen back to Drivetime interview in full here

Greece may have deported asylum seekers by mistake, says UN (Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian)

Pic: Andrew Connolly


Deportations from Greece to Turkey by Frontex officials under way this morning

The deportations under the EU/Turkey deal in relation to refugees began this morning with boats leaving the island of Lesbos and Chios for Turkey.

The Guardian reports:

Two boats carrying the first migrants to be deported from Greece to Turkey under an EU deal with Ankara have arrived in the Turkish port of Dikili.

Officials from the EU border agency Frontex said the boats, which departed from Lesbos, were carrying 131 deportees, mostly Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Moroccans who were already being deported to Turkey before the deal’s creation. This means Monday’s deportations are not a true test of whether the agreement can stop the flow of mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis to Greece.

…Eva Moncure, a Frontex spokeswoman, said there were no children on the first two boats. Two Syrians were onboard, including a woman who had volunteered to return.

The deportations on Lebsos were calmly carried out at dawn, several hours ahead of schedule… Disembarkation was delayed while officials erected a white tarpaulin on the boat to block the media’s view.

A Turkish catamaran was also transporting refugees from Chios, a Greek island near Lesbos, on Monday morning. Local TV reported that 60 migrants and refugees were on board. Volunteers on the island alleged that they saw police beating deportees at the quay.

…Anas al-Bakhr, a Syrian engineer from Homs who is among those stuck on Chios, said police marked his arrival date as 20 March – when the deal came into force – even though he arrived the day before.

“They said the computers were broken that day,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Dikili, Turkey…


First boats returning migrants and refugees from Greece arrive in Turkey (The Guardian)

Previously: Return To Sender

Pic: AA