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Escalation of Threats and Violence Against Syrian Refugees in Turkey: An Urgent Call to Protect Human Rights

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Screenshots from videos documenting attacks on Syrian refugees' properties in several Turkish provinces after unprecedented violence started in Kayseri city. Source: Turkish media outlets.
Screenshots from videos documenting attacks on Syrian refugees’ properties in several Turkish provinces after unprecedented violence started in Kayseri city. Source: Turkish media outlets.
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In recent days, Türkiye has witnessed campaigns of incitement and violence against Syrian refugees, affecting all Syrians and their properties. These incidents began in the city of Kayseri and have spread to other Turkish cities. This followed an escalation in political incitement against Syrians and a tightening of arbitrary forced deportation measures. Syrians in Türkiye have been suffering for some time from various challenges related to their legal status, access to official documents, difficult living conditions, the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, and ongoing arbitrary forced deportation campaigns, falsely termed as voluntary return. Additionally, there is a lack of clarity in some official Turkish procedures in dealing with these issues, coupled with the exploitation of the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkish elections through racist rhetoric adopted by many Turkish political parties.

This situation has led to acts of violence and riots against Syrians in Türkiye, affecting their lives and properties, resulting in casualties in many Turkish provinces, and has significantly escalated in recent days. This is due to the lack of decisive measures against racist rhetoric targeting Syrian refugees by the Turkish government, in addition to making the Turkish Immigration Directorate the sole authority responsible for resolving any legal issues faced by Syrians as individuals and as a community, depriving the Syrian refugee community of the ability to demand their rights through Turkish judicial bodies. The deportation operations and Turkish political rhetoric have also led to protests and violence, resulting in numerous casualties in northern Syria.

As Syrian civil society organizations, we call on the Turkish government to fulfill its national and international commitments related to protecting human rights, especially the rights of refugees and displaced persons on its territory. We also urge the Turkish government to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement, especially since Syria, in the current situation, is not safe for the return of millions of Syrian refugees, as confirmed by reports from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (COI-Syria) regarding the ongoing gross human rights violations in Syria. This highlights the urgent need to protect Syrian refugees and displaced persons from being subjected to these harsh and dangerous conditions.

Furthermore, we call on the Turkish government to take immediate measures to protect Syrians in Türkiye and ensure their basic rights and dignity. We also urge the Turkish government and the international community to work together to provide necessary support to refugees and displaced persons, ensure a safe and dignified life for them within the country, and find practical, comprehensive solutions to alleviate the suffering of Syrians and address the impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis in Türkiye. This includes working on a broad plan for the integration of Syrian refugees and combating hate speech and racist rhetoric against them, acknowledging that Turkey has borne the burden of hosting Syrian refugees over the past years.

We also call on donor communities funding the response to Syrian refugees in neighboring countries to ensure that the funding allocated for refugee support is not used in the coercive measures exercised by the Turkish Immigration Directorate against Syrian refugees.

The vast majority of Syrians look forward to the day when Syria becomes a safe country for their return, freeing them from the reasons for their displacement abroad, and rebuilding their country in a way that guarantees the dignity, security, and freedom of its people, and respects the rights, interests, and sovereignty of neighboring countries reciprocally. Until that day comes, we call for addressing the current escalation and violence against Syrians, protecting them, and addressing the challenges of Syrian asylum in Turkey in accordance with the provisions of law and international agreements.

Organizations:

– Aata for Development

– Access Center for Human Rights (ACHR)

– Albaghooz Hope for Development

– Almasa Center for Studies, Research, Consulting, women’s rights, empowerment and training

– Americans for Free Syria

– Analysis and Strategic Studies Organization

– ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies

– Association of Victims of Chemical Weapons

– Awda For Development

– Badael

– Bader For Community Development

– Baytna pour le soutien de la société civile

– Bercav Origination

– Caesar Families Association

– Cevher organization

– ChangeMakers

– Child Guardians

– Damma.hug

– Democratic women

– Derina Organization

– Dozana

– Duderi

– Engineering for Services

– Ensaf for Development

– Families for freedom movement

– Fanarat organization

– Feminist

– Finjan

– For us

– Gathering of Kurdish civil forces in Syria

– House of citizenship

– HRAK

– Humanitarian Care Charity

– Huquqyat

– Ishtar Development Organization

– ISO

– Jsor Alamal

– Judy Organization for Relief and Development (JORD)

– Kurdish feminist voices

– LACU

– Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights LDHR

– Lelun Association for Victims

– Local Community Empowerment

– Lyktan Sverige

– Mahabad Organization for Human Rights MOHR

– MultiFaith Alliance

– Musawa

– National Dialogue Forum

– Orchid

– Pro-justice

– Release Me

– Sadad Humanitarian Organization

– Sanabel al Furat

– SOBH CULTURAL TEAM

– SYCAC

– Synergy Association for Victims

– Syria Research Group

– Syrian British Consortium (SBC)

– Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Reacher (SCHSR)

– Syrian Center For Media And Freedom Of Expression (SCM)

– Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR)

– Syrian Swedish Association

– Syrian Women Network

– Syrian Center for Community Development

– Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ)

– Syrians Gathered

– Tayif Humanitarian Organization

– The Day After

– The EMPOWER PEACE INITIATIVES AND STRATEGIC OF ACTION Organization.

– The Syrian Legal Development Programme

– TRAHOM

– Union of Revolutionary Bureaus

– Université Libre de Bruxelles

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