Pazarkule. Turkey. March 15, 2020. We started the day by passing by Uzunköprü Turkuaz gas station. There were around 80-100 migrants waiting at the car wash section of the station. We have learnt that they were pushed back from Greece. There were some busses waiting to transport those who want to go back to Istanbul. While an officer was trying to convince them to take seats in the bus, other two health officers were distributing clean and dry clothings.
Originally publiehd by GÖÇMEN DAYANIŞMASI.
Our next stop was the village of Kiremitçisalih which is located 10km far from Uzunköprü. There were around 20 migrants waiting at the main square of the village to cross to Greece. Among three of the Moroccon migrants we have spoken, one had tried to reach to Spain few months ago by crossing Gibraltar, he was then caught and imprisoned for 3,5 months for frontier infringement. When he was released, he heard that Turkey opened the borders, then he took the first flight from Casablanca to Istanbul and arrived to this village.
5kms after Kiremitçisalih, we arrived to Kurdu village. The villagers told us ‘there no migrants here, you better check the next village’.
In the village of Gemici the keeper of the coffeehouse, who was said to be the village guard, told us that they were forbidden to give any information on this issue with an order released by the governorship. While we were setting off to the next village we saw a group of five migrants walking from the direction of the border towards the center of the village. When we tried to approach them the village guard got out the coffeehouse and shouted to prevent us speaking with this group. Each of the migrants had the same type of a raincoat. We left the village as they passed on the bus station of the villages and begun to wait hopelessly.
The residents of the next village, Akçadam informed us that there are no migrant crossings there. They adviced us to check next billages and towards the direction of Ipsala.
The villagers of Serem as well did not want to communicate with us, mentioning the prohibition of the governorship. They claimed that the state has nothing to do with this and migrants are crossing by their personal efforts.
In the main square of Karayusuflu two people we have met, have just arrived there because of the closures due to corona virus. Although they have not been living in their village, both of them said migration movement is not new, it has always been an issue for the village due to its proximity to the border, however it has turned more visible with the last process.
Another youngster we came across in the village coffeehouse told us that they have kept the coffeehouse the first night when there was intense flow of people. There were two large rubber boats in the parking space across the coffeehouse we were chatting. They told that the boats were brought by the gendarmerie. Another interesting story they told us was about a villager who got caught by the Turkish military two weeks ago while transporting migrants to Greece and detained. Only a days after this event, Turksh side of the borer was opened and the same soldiers came to village this time to ask support to cross migrants. The villagers have been also talking about the push backs from the Greek side and how the pushed back men were stripped and beaten, and some of the women were raped. All of the villager we have spoken told us that migrants harmed neither them nor their crops, so they have no complaints.
Noborder Pazarkule/Evros, March 15, 2020.
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