NGO Report: Turkey Forcing Refugees Back to Syria

According to the NGO Human Rights Watch's (HRW) report released on Monday, hundreds of Syrian men and boys were detained, beaten, and forcibly returned to their home country by Turkish authorities over a six-month period between February and July 2022.

NGO Report: Turkey Forcing Refugees Back to Syria
Image credit: Osman Köycü / Unsplash

Facts

  • According to the NGO Human Rights Watch's (HRW) report released on Monday, hundreds of Syrian men and boys were detained, beaten, and forcibly returned to their home country by Turkish authorities over a six-month period between February and July 2022.
  • The deported Syrians told researchers that Turkish officials arrested them in their homes, workplaces, and on the street. They were then allegedly detained and forced to sign documents agreeing to "voluntarily" return to Syria and led across the border at gunpoint.
  • Turkey is bound by an international treaty that prohibits returning anyone to a place where they would face real risks of death, torture, or persecution. Last month, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria designated the country as unsafe for returnees and so Turkey is allegedly "in violation of international law," according to HRW.
  • Turkey has the world's largest refugee population — including 3.6M Syrians who have fled throughout the decade-long war. Previously, the Turkish government has denied accusations of forcibly returning refugees to Syria.
  • Earlier this month, a Turkish official said nearly 527K Syrians had already voluntarily returned, with Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May saying Ankara would organize the return of 1M refugees.
  • The news comes as Erdoğan has signaled a shift toward more positive relations with the Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad, with additional repatriations being part of a major component of the dialogue.

Sources: sfgate, abc, Washington Post, stripes, Independent, and Voa.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by HRW. Under Turkey's Temporary Protection Regulation, Ankara must accept all Syrian refugees who cross its border, so these deportations violate not only international law, but Turkey's own law. These inhumane refugee roundups and expulsions are due to rising xenophobia in Turkey. Erdoğan's government must follow through on its international human rights obligations.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Turkish Minute. While tragic, the war in Syria isn't the Turkish people's fault, and they shouldn't be forced to deal with its migratory ramifications. The Syrians that Erdoğan is sending back are going to safe zones in the border regions of Syria, where they will have Turkish-funded housing and other infrastructure provided for them. Ankara has been extremely welcoming to millions of Syrian refugees — more than any other nation.