Pazarkule. Turkey. March 3, 2020. Waiting of immigrants moving to the Pazarkule border gate in Edirne continues for 4 days after the announcement of T.C state that opening of the border gates on the border of Greece. There are actively five thosound waiting immigrants on the border however the circulation of the number of incoming and returning people is quite high, expressed in tens of thousands.
Originally published by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF).
When we say returning we are meaning the people those who still have money and are able to return, those with a place to return. We can explain as follows: One of the immigrants who were waiting at the border an Iranian immigrant residing in Turkey for 4 years: There is no positive outcome of staying in Turkey, they can’t build a life for themselves here, he told us that their only hope was to pass through the gate. In other words, they had neither money to return nor shelter where they could return. They remained on the limb beyond the Turkish border-behind the Greek Border where is called “buffer zone”, “forbidden zone”.
From Edirne Bus Terminal to the Border
Even at Edirne Bus Terminal, which is about half an hour drive from Pazarkule border gate, approximately 1,000 migrants are waiting. There is no means of transportation directly from the bus station to the border gate. It is difficult to find a taxi, and if it is found, it is difficult to pay the fee; Most taxi drivers say they will not operate the taximeter when they realize that they are immigrants; they charge hundreds of liras for the distance that will hold up to maximum fifty liras. Some taxi drivers refuse their passengers, saying that they cannot carry or taking money from immigrants who are directed to the closed border gate.
Those who can find vehicles for transportation can go to the border gate, Those who can learn that the border is closed somehow prefer to wait at the bus terminal –due to the better condition of terminal-.
Even if the Greek state decides to open the gate, passage of such a crowd is technically impossible due to the large number of immigrants waiting at Pazarkule Border Gate, Although this is the case, immigrants are not directed to the Kapikule border gate. Immigrants are directed to Pazarkule Border Gate, not Kapikule, in order to avoid the risk of closing the Kapikule Border Gate where imports and exports continue by Greece. The strategy of T.C revealed itself: They know that the Greek state will not open its border gates to immigrants, although they know this, they direct immigrants to the border gate -that will not force the economy- as a threat in a political bargain.
Beyond the T.C border-behind the Greek Border
Gendarmerie and police checkpoints become frequent when approaching Pazarkule Border Gate, the gendarmerie has established a two-stage barrier at the gate. Nobody other than immigrants is taken from the outer barrier. We were able to enter the buffer zone called the zero point by walking around the barrier -which we could not pass as a press- and mingling with the immigrants.
In the buffer zone, the T.C side has actually removed its boundary wires, at least this part of the statements made by government officials is real. The gendarmerie and other law enforcement officers are waiting only at the border post and at barriers that have been set up specially, as long as this unusual immigrant mobility is experienced. So it does not prevent migrants from crossing.
The Greek side, on the other hand, is not satisfied with completely closing its areas to the passage, it has turned over with extra wires, barriers and soldiers. This is where the Greek state law enforcement officers attacked the immigrants with tear gas, which has been served from different angles in the news as if they were different attacks for four days. The attack happened on the first day under the pretext that immigrants were trying to overcome the new “measures” we mentioned in the two previous sentences.
For now, the T.C side of the border and the buffer zone between the two sides is completely filled with immigrants. Even though the Red Crescent and refugee associations close to the State started distributing meals in 3 days, more than five thousand immigrants are waiting for the moment the gate will be opened under the difficult conditions and under the “Border of Honor” monument. Hunger, illness and the absence of sheltering areas are among the most striking challenges in the military zone between the woodland and the borderline. The air temperature drops below zero at night, the ice on the ground starts to melt at sunrise. It is really hard to sleep at night. In the area where there are hundreds of children, people are trying to warm up with fires built from branches gathered from the forest and get over another night with the makeshift barracks also built from branches.
As far as we can observe, quite a few of the immigrants are Syrian – contrary to what is claimed-; Besides many Afghan, Iranian and Turkmen immigrants, there are also immigrants from many African countries, especially Algeria. Most of the immigrants that we had the opportunity to interview or talk asked whether the gate will open today, but the possibility of the gate opening does not appear on the horizon.
When a rumor says that the gate has been opened, all the immigrants in the region hastily take their tents, belongings and children under their arms and run towards the gate with their shining eyes. It takes five minutes or less to realize that the gate is still closed, then they return to their fire that has not yet faded, with their eyes that lost their light. Decisions are taken; there are those who continue the wait or try to find another transit line, and those who give up …
Among States’ Strategies of Interest
It is obvious that the only demand of the Turkish state is not the waiting of the immigrants at the buffer zone. When the number of people waiting in front of the border gate increases, the new immigrants are dropped by buses to other points on the border line, and they are even said to be guided by showing paths to cross Meriç river.
The boots of the immigrants who try to cross Meriç are not allowed the land ashore beyond the border as a result of the fascist government’s immigrant policy, and those who are caught at the border are tortured and stripped to their pants and thrown to the T.C side of the wires. Today, it is heard that Greek soldiers killed an immigrant by shooting while he is trying to cross via boat.
The influx of immigrants towards Edirne started with the announcement that border security will be lifted by AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik, “Our refugee policy is the same, but there is a situation, we are no longer in a position to hold the refugees.” is wanted to be increased further with the claims that 117,677 immigrants have crossed the border according to the figure given by Minister of Internal Affair Süleyman Soylu.
Although the information that immigrants cross the border is completely false, this news, which is done to increase the number of immigrants who are on the border, is used to increase the trump in the hands of the TC in the negotiations with the EU for Idlib war.
Even the number of people who can pass at the normal time cannot exceed the limits due to the soldiers and the police that the Greek state has accumulated on the border. While the number of those who can pass by sea is expressed in 5-6 boats, the claims of T.C that more than 100 thousand immigrants has passed the border are not another goal than receiving a congratulation from the nationalist-fascist section with the message of “we are sending Syrians”. Rising of fascist attacks against Syrians in various regions of Turkey is the reflection of these claims.
There are millions of people, especially the president himself who said “No matter what they say, you are never a burden” for the immigrants a few years ago, wants to forget and ignore his words today “We don’t have to feed them”. You can try to ignore everything, but you can never ignore the what was happened to the people who have been removed from where they live for the interests of states, you should not ignore them.
Mercan Doğan & Furkan Çelik
Photos: Sergen Saka
Revolutionary Anarchist Action (DAF), March 3, 2020.
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