By Irene Sánchez. Picture by B.Bécares

The racism and xenophobia against Arab people in Turkey are increasing. Emre and No Name Kitchen met in 2018 in Velika Kladusa, a bosnian town very near the border with Croatia. He was trying to arrive in a European country to ask for asylum, to get the chance to operate his problems in the eyes that could make him blind. He was only 19 years old but as a person who was a refugee since 2011, when his family escaped Syria, he was working in Turkey as a child. 

Now, our Kurdish friend, Emre (false name), has documents in a European country. He studies, he knows 5 languages and can travel with his documentos. But he is separated from his family. And he wanted to explain and make public what Syrian citizens are facing in Turkey: here he tells us what he sees and suffers every time he visits the country. 

“I really want to do everything so that countries and the world know what is happening here, it is something that makes one cry”, he said. If you give any sign that you are Arab, your life is in danger. In his words:

“if I talk Arabic, all people come to me and tell me, shut up, you have to talk Turkish because you are in Turkey”. He has also told us about cases in which taxi drivers become aggressive with Arab people and beat them.

These situations make Arab people afraid to go out, to lead a normal life. Emre told us that his family cannot get out of the house. His 9 year old nephew cannot go to school, even go outside for a walk out of fear. 

Syrian people fearing going to school

Besides, he has to lie about his nationality, he cannot say he is from Syria because he fears for his life. His 17-year-old sister suffers from the same situation. She is afraid to go to school because among the Syrian population it is said that Syrian people are killed. And “the police do not do anything”, he said.

According to Emre, this place of the video is Adana, a province of Turkey. Signs are taken because of the language. It has been made public that the Police in Turkiye rip down signs with Arabic script on them.

And not only do the police do nothing, but they violate the rights of these people, perpetuating racism and xenophobia, as this person explains to us. Emre told us that if the police see some Arab people, they take them, they force them to take their fingerprints, because if they refuse to do it, they also force them to sign a paper in which it is written that they “want” to come back to Syria. And, and has happened to Emre’s friends, if they still refuse to sign the paper, they use physical force. 

“If you do not want to do it, they beat you”, Emre said.

The police deport people to their country, knowing that Syria is not a safe country. Emre saw with his own eyes how the police entered the toilet to take people from Syria, detain them and put them on “a deportation bus”. In his words, “really, a situation that makes a person go crazy […] “Racism is a small word, they hate people”. Racism and xenophobia are such that there are cases in which police deport people from Morocco to Syria, as media have published, placing all the Arabs under the same umbrella.

Türkiye is tightening measures against foreigners and people on the move, which reveals people’s resentment towards Syrian refugees. The Turkish government is taking action to expel Arab people from the country. For instance, the police have started to rip down signs with Arabic script on them. Besides, in 39 districts of the country they have stopped issuing residence permits to foreigners.

Thanks to stories of people on the move, we can learn first-hand about the situations of racism and xenophobia that these people suffer in countries like Turkey, therefore, denounce these human rights violations. “I really want to do everything so that countries and the world know what is happening here, it is something that makes one cry”, Emre said.