Pazarkule. Turkey. March 10, 2020. Karaağaç’s central square was filled with a crowd of migrants early in the morning. There was a long queue of people waiting for the market to open. The counter of the pastry shop was emptied, and the daily bakery supplies were exhausted by early morning. Alongside the migrants that we had established an intimacy with, we had started to develop a general familiarity with this crowd.
Originally publiehd by GÖÇMEN DAYANIŞMASI.
In some houses in the village, people can take shower in exchange for 15 liras. In the coffee house, there were many migrant women. We had some conversation while they were waiting for their phones to charge. Suddenly, a masked attendant with a special uniform entered the coffee house spraying a disinfectant substance, especially towards the belongings of the migrants, whilst reassuring people inside saying “It’s harmless, harmless”.
In the square in front of the coffee-house, some undercover police were interrogating the ID’s of passersby. A migrant friend we were talking to pointed towards the journalists, who were being questioned by the police at that moment, and said “The life of many refugees is being ruined. They don’t give any news. There’s only TRT, ATV and the Anatolian Agency inside”. The police presence and the dose of security in the village increased during the day. The police patrol also visited our vehicles.
Karağaç seperates from the Edirne city center by a river. The bridge at the entrance of the village is the first checkpoint of the camp alongside the border. The police stops the vehicles passing through there to check if there are any migrants inside, and asks the migrants to get off the car. There are different opinions on what is happening to the migrant groups that are held waiting here. We heard that some are taken to crossing points, and some directly to the camp without allowing them to come into contact with the Karaağaç village. We learned that a group of 100 people were waiting inside the Edirne city to reach the camp side. It is said that the busses which come to this point take these people to Uzunköprü.
On the other hand, we also heard that a person who was travelling to Istanbul from Edirne with his private vehicle yesterday was stopped at the police station, and asked to take a migrant with him to Istanbul. Hence, we know that the migrants who are heading for the border and have not yet reached Pazarkule are collected by the police, but the rumours regarding what happens to these people vary. No piece of information is certain and confirmed. In almost every matter, uncertainty has become the law of this place.
A friend coming from Istanbul to replace some members in our regular rotation told us that the bus was stopped at the Havsa turnoff. Accordingly, there were a few Afghans and two undercover police in the bus; both the police and the migrants were told to be prepared by the deputy before coming to the turnoff, and when the bus was stopped, the Afghans were asked to get off the bus to join the group of others who were awaited outside. However, other friends who came the same way, using the same bus company yesterday were not stopped at the checkpoint.
On the other hand, a taxi driver reported that police makes intimidating warnings to taxi and minibus drivers in Edirne, “do not pick up the migrants, it constitutes a crime and the punishment is heavy”. The observations and the conversations we had during our journeys with minibuses confirm this.
At eleven o’clock in the evening, we saw a group of around twenty migrants who walked collectively from the backstreets of Karaağaç with their bags towards the direction of the border. We went outside to do a small greeting, as for the last few days the vehicles were stopped at the checkpoint at the entrance of Karağaç and the migrants were not allowed to enter the village, and thus we had not observed any migrants entering the village. They told us they were not allowed inside the camp so they were looking for a place to spend the night and quickly moved away.
Noborder Pazarkule/Edirne, March 10, 2020.
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