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Notes From #Pazarkule/ #Evros, Seventh Day

Pazarkule. Turkey. March 6, 2020. We went from Alibey village to the Turkuaz gas station in Uzunköprü, located at a 30 km distance from us. This is the place where the migrants who are sent back from the Greek side are sent to. But we were not allowed to stay here.

Originally published by GÖÇMEN DAYANIŞMASI.

As far as we could see in a short time we could stay there, the number of migrants in the field had diminished in comparison with the last days. We can say that it was at most 100 persons. There was also a vehicle of the Turkish Red Cross in the field. Yesterday many civil Turkish citizens were helping here independently and unaffiliated to any organization at many points. But today there were not allowed to come here by infantry or gendarmerie.

We thought that it wouldn’t cause any problems if we went to the bus station where around 250-300 migrants were waiting as far as we knew. This is why we continued from Uzunköprü to Edirne bus station. At around 18:10, we witnessed that at the Havsa junction, there was a vehicle being checked, and the migrants had to get off the vehicle. 

At around 16:30, when we were still on the way, we got a notice from a journalist friend of ours who was at a square at around 3km distance from the border in Pazarkule. He told us that 5-6 cars left the field and that there was a plan to empty the field. We called a refugee friend of ours in the field to tell him this information. He called us back a couple of hours later when he had made some examinations on the topic. He told us that he had talked to a police officer who had said to him that if they wanted, they would be transferred to Istanbul or another city and that they had to empty the field as soon as possible. 

He told us that the ones who wanted to leave were brought out of the field with vehicles while at the same time rubber bullets and gas cartridges were continued to be thrown from the Greek side of the border. He said that in the buffer zone field, four of the five razor blade wire fences had been torn down and that they had moved till to the point where “Ellada” is written and right behind which Greek soldiers were standing. He told us that the meantime, Turkish soldiers were responding by throwing gas cartridges to the Greek side of the border. In the evening we met with him. He told us that they had been caught up between gas shootings from two sides and showed us photos and videos documenting this. 

It was seven o`clock when we arrived at the bus station. We had thought that it was a good place to get in touch with some of the migrants since we knew that the bus station was still open for civilians. We parked our vehicle at a place the traffic police appointed to us. We put up our kitchen and started cooking. While our soup was on the stove, 4-5 policemen came and told us that food distribution had been forbidden by order of the prefecture and that we should pack our kitchen without making difficulties. 

We tried to convince the police by telling them that we had cooked soup for 200 persons and we don’t want it to go to the waste. One of the police officers told us that he understood that we were well-intentioned but that before some of the people who had made food distribution had tried to poison the migrants and that this was the reason for the ban. The policemen gave us the advice to go to other places and try there. 

Another policeman told us that many of the migrants had scabies and that if we got in touch with them, we had to wear gloves. The same policeman added later on, that there would soon be an intervention, that they would remove the migrants from this spot and send them to Istanbul and that we shouldn’t stay here, that it would be better for us to leave. In the meantime, we saw how journalists from Turkey and abroad did interviews with migrants. 

Hereon we talked to some migrants without continuing our cooking activities. Of the people we spoke to, some had come from Kayseri, others from Giresun. A refugee from Afghanistan told us that he had sold everything he had to go here from Kayseri. Now he has been waiting here for five days, but due to the frightening news, he was afraid of going to the border and waiting here and that he was waiting here for Greek to open the border. 

He told us that the state didn’t come there at all but that civil people came and helped them a lot. Another migrant woman with two children at the bus station told us that she had crossed to the Greek side of the border where her clothes were taken away, and she was beaten, and after that, she was sent back to Turkey. Now she was waiting here for the borders to open since she gave up everything she had by coming here and no place to go back. The motivation of the ones waiting at the bus station is generally not to go back to the places they came but to find an open way to Greece. 

We went back to Karaağaç close to the Pazarkule border gate. We parked at around 2,5 km distance from the border. The sellers there who sell fruit, vegetables, eggs, etc. to the migrants told us that they expected the fights to be very violent today and tomorrow. 

At around eight, we heard fightings and smoke coming up from the field. 1 km to the other direction towards the center, we set the table to serve the soup together with migrants who were walking towards the field. The soup that was left was filled into plastic cans so that migrants entering the field could bring it there. 

At around 1 a.m., we got a message from our friends that the bus station was now empty and migrants had been removed from there. 

After midnight we heard sounds of fightings and from time to time ambulance sirens. 

No Border Pazarkule/Edirne, March 6, 2020.

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