WSJ: Turks fleeing Erdogan fuel new influx of refugees to Greece


Date posted: December 2, 2018

Thousands of Turks flee Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against the Kurds and the Gülen Group in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Around 14,000 people crossed the Evros frontier from January through September of this year, more than double the number for the whole of last year, according to the Greek police. Around half of them were Turkish citizens, according to estimates from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency. Many are judges, military personnel, civil servants or business people who have fallen under Turkish authorities’ suspicion, had their passports canceled and chosen an illegal route out.
Nearly 4,000 Turks have applied for asylum in Greece so far this year. But most Turkish arrivals don’t register their presence in Greece, planning instead to head deeper into Europe and further from Turkey.

About 30 Turks have been arriving on a daily basis since the failed coup, according to Kathimerini, there were zero arrivals from Turkey in 2015. However, thousands of Turkish citizens have started claiming asylum in Greece since “Erdogan stepped up his crackdown against his opponents since the failed coup attempt.”

The Wall Street Journal interviewed some of the purge-victim families in Greece:

“In the dead of night, Yunuz Cagar and his wife Cansu gave their baby some herbal tea to help her sleep, donned backpacks and followed smugglers on a muddy path along the Evros river, evading fences and border guards until they reached Greece.

Mr. Cagar, a 29-year-old court clerk, was living a quiet life with his family in a provincial town near Istanbul until Turkey’s crackdown after a failed military coup in 2016 turned their world upside down. Judges, colleagues and friends were arrested. He lost his job and had to move the family into his parents’ attic. Mr. Cagar was arrested and spent four months in prison. His crime, he says, was downloading a messaging app, an act he says the state treated as evidence of supporting terrorism.

“We didn’t say goodbye to anyone before leaving,” said Mr. Cagar, who is now in Athens trying to find some way to get to Germany. His wife and child already made it there with the help of smugglers who have demanded a hefty price. “We began our journey with €13,000 ($14,700) and I have €1,500 left,” he said.

Former Turkish court clerk Yunuz Cagar is stranded in Athens as he seeks a way to join his wife and one-year-old daughter in Germany. PHOTO: ALEXANDROS AVRAMIDIS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Ahmed, a 30-year-old former F-16 pilot in the Turkish air force, spends his days talking to smugglers and trying to find a way out. “My dream is Canada, but the reality is Omonoia,” he said, referring to the gritty square in downtown Athens where migrants and smugglers mingle.

A few months after the coup attempt, Ahmed said, he was dismissed, accused of Gulenist links, arrested and beaten, after another officer denounced him. He said he has no connections with Mr. Gulen’s network. He was released pending trial, but decided to flee when a prison term appeared unavoidable.

Yilmaz Bilir, his wife Ozlem and their four children were on vacation when the coup attempt happened. Mr. Bilir, who worked at the information-technology department of Turkey’s foreign ministry, found out months later that he was suspected of Gulenist links, which he denies. The family went into hiding, staying with relatives and friends. Mr. Bilir was arrested when he briefly visited his own home and neighbors called the police. When he was released pending trial, the family decided to leave Turkey.

Mr. Bilir made it to Germany using a forged passport and has applied for asylum there. His wife and children have applied to join him.

Mrs. Bilir, stuck for now in Athens, remembers how happy the family was when they crossed the river Evros one summer night. “It was an endless walk, but we were happy, because we were away together,” she said. “I was so stressed in Turkey that I couldn’t sleep well for months, but that first night in detention in Greece, I finally slept.”

After the coup, Meral Budak was suspended from her job as a teacher. Her husband was a journalist at Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper linked to Mr. Gulen’s movement. He had a valid U.S. visa and was able to travel to Canada, where he now works as an Uber driver. His 18-year-old son joined him a few months later.

Mrs. Budak and the couple’s 15-year-old son Ali remained in Turkey and soon had their passports revoked. They went into hiding for a year. “The most traumatic memory was when I burned hundreds of books,” she said. “Even my children’s school books could be considered evidence, since the publishing companies were funded by Gulen.”

On Jan. 1 of this year, Mrs. Budak and Ali undertook the long walk across the Evros and into Greece, where they now wait to join the rest of the family in Canada.

“When I was walking through Greek villages, I realized my life was never going to be the same,” Mrs. Budak said. “I was walking into the unknown.”

Source: Tukey Purge , December 1, 2018


Related News

Scholars: Misconceptions of Islam still abound

SEVGI AKARÇEŞME, İSTANBUL The subject of misconceptions of Islam dominated the debates at the international conference organized by the Foundation of Journalists and Authors (GYV) and Fatih University in İstanbul today. The event, titled “The Practice of Coexistence in Islamic Civilization and Contemporary Interpretations,” started on Friday with the participation of international scholars and leading […]

Terrorist PKK targets Gulen movement’s schools in Hakkari

Schools opened by the Gülen movement, inspired by internationally respected Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen, in the eastern province of Hakkari are often threatened by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to an interview by the T24 news portal. The first private school the Gülen movement in Hakkari was opened in 2007. There are currently 300 students at the school, Hatice Avcı College.

State government in Baden Wurttemberg in constructive dialogue with Hizmet volunteers

The nine-item inquiry proposed by five CDU (Christian Democratic Union) deputies to Baden Wurttemberg State Assembly has been responded by Ministry of Integration in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister Undersecretary and Ministry of Education. Through the answers, the public, once again, has been affirmed that the Turkish-initiated schools have […]

Censored by theft: Man caught stealing copies of Zaman daily

In the video footage, the young man is seen stealing three Zaman newspapers placed in the mail boxes of an apartment building. When asked by the subscriber who was filming why he was stealing the newspapers, the thief said his father was the AK Party’s Beylikdüzü provincial chairman and that his father had initiated the campaign against Zaman because it is defaming the party.

594 Young Children Growing Up In Turkish Prisons

Five hundred ninety-four children under the age of 6 are being kept with their mothers in Turkish prisons, Turkey’s Ministry of Justice said, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.

Mother’s Day takes on a new meaning with Kimse Yok Mu

“Mother’s Day”, originated abroad in 1908, has been celebrated annually on the second Sunday of May in Turkey since a proposal by Association of Turkish Women in 1955. Modest celebrations and gifts for our mothers, who are indisputably sacred and dedicated their lives to their children, allow them a meaningful break from the hectic life. […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Freedom comes with a price

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences for Those Who Lost Their Lives During Gaza Protests

ACDC Builds Clean Water Well in Benin!

‘Hizmet is really something that demonstrates what’s universal about Islam.’

What’s not to love in this coup?

Former minister inquires about secret plot against Gülen movement

Turkish Cultural Center co-hosts Iftar with Westchester Reform Temple

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News