Two detained as clash erupts during Istanbul protest on Syrian refugees
Istanbul police on Saturday detained two people following a clash between members of civil society organisations protesting the crackdown on the country’s Syrian refugees and a group of ultra-nationalists.
Police intervened when a group of neo-nationalists swarmed and attempted to attack members of ÖZGÜRDER, MAZLUMDER and the International Refugee Rights Association (IRRA), who gathered in Istanbul’s Saraçhane Park to protest against the reported detentions and forced returns of Turkey’s Syrian refugees, left-wing news site Duvar reported.
Istanbul is home to over 500,000 of Turkey’s some 3.6 million Syrian refugees. Turkish authorities have cracked down on the group over the last 10 days with increasing reports of Syrians being coerced into signing forms saying they want to return to Syria before being dumped into the war-torn country, among other practices.
Two people were detained after police used tear gas on a group of ultra-nationalists who attempted to attack representatives of civil society groups as they released a statement on the recent crackdown against the refugees.
ÖZGÜRDER Chairman Rıdvan Kaya slammed Istanbul Governor’s office over its ultimatum to Syrian refugees to leave the city.
“If there are three of our criminals among these people, then you can separate them. But it is not justice to send these people, who are trying to make a living for their families, off to different provinces,’’ Kaya said.
Turkey on Monday announced plans to limit the number of Syrian migrants in its largest city of Istanbul with Syrian refugees initially registered in other cities given a deadline of Aug. 20 to leave the city or face forcible transfer. An estimated 200,000 of the more than half a million Syrian refugees in Istanbul were registered elsewhere.
Turkey, for its part, has denied claims that Syrians are being forcibly returned to Syria, however, testimonies from a number of refugees on maltreatment from Turkish authorities has drawn criticisms from rights groups.
Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday accused Turkey of detaining and coercing Syrians into signing “voluntary return” forms and then forcibly returning them to northern Syria, an area that is currently a war zone.