Heartbreaking stories of Turkish Refugees in Greece

Date posted: May 21, 2018

In Turkey, thousands of families and tens of thousands of people had to leave their country soon after the failed coup attempt on July, 15, 2016.  151,967 people were dismissed from their jobs, 136,995 people were detained, 77,524 were arrested.

Children were definitely the most affected ones by this genocide, committed against the followers of Gulen Movement.

The members of Gulen Movement, who sat out from the coasts of the Aegean Sea and the Meric River with the hope of freedom, are still suffering for leaving their families behind as well as their goods and homes. These people, who served their country and made an effort for building a fair world order for years, have been nowadays fleeing from injustice and lawlessness and endeavoring to take refuge in other countries without even speaking their languages.

How Greece is responding to Turkish refugees?

Greece is no doubt the foremost among these countries. Greece, which has been preferred by refugees mainly from Syria, Iraq, Iran and many other Middle East Countries for a long time, is facing now with the mass of refugee, composed mostly of Turkish judges-prosecutors, doctors, academicians and journalists. According to informal figures, 1200 families, walking for long distances and paying out thousands of dollars, are living in this country. 200 of these families are located in Selanik and the rest 1000 are in Athens, struggling to survive. Although these families, who had to flee from autocracy in Turkey, live with limited means but feel themselves at least free. These people who were regular and well-disciplined during their life, have now only one goal: to leave from Greece and to find asylum in other developed European States. But this is not so easy. These refugees have to meet with human smugglers whom they only saw them in movies and they have to ask for help from them. This is necessary because of the present circumstances.

The mass of refugee, staying in Greece live mainly in Athens. The top priority of these people is to be able to go to other countries. The European Union Funds pay a specific amount of money to these people, spending all money on this priority. But it doesn’t grow on trees because the authorities of EU make appointment with Turkish refugees once a week for this aid. If you went to the appointment, if your turn came, and if you managed to make yourself understood, they would give you a court day. The date of court takes at least 3 months. The refugees, participants of Gulen Movement, are staying in small houses by paying rent where can be found from a system called “airbnb”. It is difficult to find a house for rent in summer, furthermore the rental charges double compared to winter months. Therefore, two families prefer to stay together in a two-roomed house. A monthly expense for a family costs 1000 Euros despite all limited means. Turkish refugees, making an effort for learning language in free language courses, try to find a way for going other countries in their remaining times. On the other hand, it is difficult to find Turkish products and halal foods in Greece. There are two markets, two butchers and three restaurants, they can go for shopping in Athens. Although prices are a little bit higher than marketplace, they have no choice apart from these shops.

A.G, the father of a single-child family and the participant of Gulen Movement, is only one of them who had to take refuge in Greece in this period.

“I was working as a manager at a state-controlled corporation of Hizmet Movement and I became unemployed when the pressures of government went off increasing in 2013 and our corporation was closed with statutory decree after the coup attempt in 2016.

I had to live in Turkey financially embarrassed for a long time. I made an effort to earn to survive with my own means. Then the life spaces ran out, I applied for other jobs. Nobody employed me by the time they learned that I was Gulenist. A.G told Politurco.

A.G added that he tried to make his living a little more time by selling his car. But he couldn’t stand and decided to flee abroad when he saw his neighborhood froze out his family.

In this period Z.G, the wife of A.G, is without no doubt his pillar of support. Z.G, helping his husband and promoting his plans since their marriage, is aggrieved mostly because of disloyalty of people in her country. She said: “We served these people. Even if I had died, I couldn’t have imagined the insensitivity of these people.’

The family, setting off to take refuge in Greece on Meric River, contacted with a smuggler on Internet. They negotiated with smuggler in turn of 2.500 Euros per person for crossing the border from the Meric. A.G said that this was no longer necessary, in order to live freely. He told Politurco that smuggler asked them to rely on him in any circumstances involving lifejacket. A.G stated that they were deceived by him.

Smugglers left them in the middle of Meric River

“All the means and promises which smugglers had offered us, were completely a lie. They told us that there were life jackets while crossing the river. All of them were rubbish. We came to Edirne, they left us somewhere unknown. Gendarmeries were standing near there. We thought that these gamblers would sell us to gendarmeries. Immediately we diverged around in order not to draw attention.

‘According to the contract we would give money in the coast of river. But they wanted from us the money, we didn’t give. Then they took us to the coast of Meric. We were anxious. But we had no other solution.’ ‘We got on the boat and crossed over 5 minutes later. The people, crossing over us, returned. We walked a few meters more. Just as we were getting happier, we saw a raceway near there. We realized that they left us in a small islet on the middle of the Meric River. The other side of the Meric had deluged with floodwater. This side could be passed merely by boat. We had neither a boat nor something else for crossing. The opposite coast was about 30 meters from the islet. The river was floating too fast. We couldn’t see the river because of the darkness but we could hear the rate of the flow. We called again the smuggler. We told him that there was a second river and he left us in the middle of the Meric. Smuggler said that he came but nobody came.’

A.G and his family had to stay there from 8.00 p.m to 06.00 a.m in the middle of the Meric River. The family, who had to stay there up all night with wet clothes, stated that they had trembled during the night with three children and four adults. A.G, trying to warm the children up with dry clothes in the bag, was worried about crying of his children. He couldn’t sleep all day because the security forces, hearing the crying of children, could come and find them. In the morning, the family who can see the water clearly, decided inevitably crossing the river with their own means.

A.G and his family began to feel safe after they had crossed over the opposite side thanks to the ‘tall one’ of adults.

A.G said: “We relaxed just after we stepped the land of another country by fleeing from own country. We went to the police station. We told them that we had fled from the tyranny of government in Turkey and we were the member of Gulen Movement. The police welcomed us. We stayed in detention room for two days. We took the certificate of free circulation. Blankets and beds were the only things in our minds after the coldness of the Meric River. Our clothes were completely sandy and muddy. We came to Athens. A friend of us hosted us there. We were searching for the ways to go to other countries. But we had a little amount of cash.”

“Nevertheless, we are very grateful. I don’t think that we have the right for complaint. This is a test and we want to pass the test ideally without complaining.” The mother Z.G said to Politurco.

She also told that they were so happy about the visitors, coming from other states in Europe. ‘They visited us and concerned with our troubles. They were giving us moral support.’

A.T.S, the member of a different family, escaping from heavy persecution in Turkey, said: ‘There were also heavy pressures before July 15 coup attempt. The corporation, which I was employed was closed down a week after the failed coup attempt. Two weeks after the coup attempt the police made an operation to my house in order to take me into custody. At that time, we were in the hometown of my wife. Two days later our journey started through unbeknown. We stayed in a different house for two months. We learned there that both my wife (B.H.S) and my wife’s father were taken into custody. Although my father-in-low had no relation with Hizmet, he was arrested because of my wife. He is a Parkinson patient. A difficult period started for him and us. My wife wanted to surrender many times for the release of his father.  I hardly prevented her.’

‘My father in law was released after 21 days by means of bills of exception and doctor reports. His illness unfortunately became much worse. We lived in this 2-month period for fear of detention with every door bell.’

‘By the way, I went to a very close friend of mine in the city where I hided first. He told us that we could stay only a night. He was confused.  We had to go in the morning. He said that he couldn’t help us. After two months, we learned that our neighbor was an undercover police officer. Then a paper, which we have to write our credentials, was put in front of our door by the neighbor. We didn’t sleep during the night. On the following day we left this place. My brother’s friend had a slum. We went there and stayed there about 15 months. We have two children. We couldn’t school them for 2 years. So we were frightened, the neighbors could suspect from our children not going to school and could report the police. One day, we went out with our children. The police came to both places where we sat. Immediately we returned to our house without feeling joy of feast.’

 Why they fled to Greece?

‘First of all the police raided my places for the second time.  We realized that our right to live in Turkey was completely imperiled with the statutory decree which enables para military groups a license to kill they want. We preferred this difficult way which had the risks of dying and detention. We started this through journey with smugglers who didn’t value the human life. While crossing from the Meric River, we learned that the freedom was a big blessing.’

A.T.S told Politurco that Greece authorities behaved them well.

‘They adopted us with our muddy clothes, they offered us food. They didn’t take any charge. They said: “You are safe.” We asked for calling the authorities after eating and getting warm. Then the officers came to take us. Then they held us for a day in custodial prison and migrants camp. The conditions were so bad but they behaved us politely. One of kindness that we also experienced: ‘While going to migrants camp, I tossed my old and muddy pants out. When we arrived the camp, I realized that I had tossed out also our money (1700 Euro) in the pocket of pants. We asked from police to find our money. After three hours they brought the money.’

A.T.S told that their next plan was to live in a state where no pressure and tyranny would harm them anymore. “We want to go to a country where we can live humanely, where our children can receive good education, where there is no pressure and tyranny.”

A.T.S , told Politurco that Turkey is now the land of pain and sorrow for them. ‘Unfortunately the darkness in our country still remains. When we hear the name of Turkey, ten thousands of victims, their sorrows and thieves stealing all we had including the future of our children come into our minds.

Source: Poli Turco , May 20, 2018

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