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Notes From #Pazarkule/ #Evros, Seventeenth Day

Pazarkule. Turkey. March 16, 2020. The police, who stopped our car at the entrance of Ipsala, asked if there were any refugees in the car. There are no traces of refugees in the city. The nearby Greek border crossing was active. The customs officers we spoke to said that there were no problems at the border fence.

Originally publiehd by GÖÇMEN DAYANIŞMASI. Translated by Enough 14.

The residents with whom we spoke in the village Balabancık explained that although this place was an active transit point in the first few days, the refugees who were here were taken by bus to the surrounding villages and that there were no more refugees in the village.

When we stopped at the village square of Adasarhanlı, 4 km from the Greek border, we started talking to the villagers whom we met for the first time. One of them suggested that we should talk to the headmaster. The Muhtar (village headman) said that there had been no complaints about the refugees. In total, about 5,000 people had passed through their villages and 500 people had been pushed back. Those who were pushed back from Greece had been beaten and some of them had returned to the village. Their arms and legs were broken. He said that they could accommodate 200-300 people at a time in the wedding hall of the village. The refugees are no longer present. However, there are more food donations that cannot be used.

The people we tried to contact in Küplü village refused to talk to us.

The villagers we were able to talk to in the village Subaşı explained that the problem of the refugees in their villages is not new, they have been living with this fact for 30 years. They said that Greece has confiscated a fishing boat.

The village Kadıdondurma is 4-5 km from the border. The villagers we spoke with said that they had not suffered any damage from the refugees and that the crossings were economically beneficial for the villagers with their cars and boats. The refugees in the village were collected and brought to Alibey village.

The Muhtar and the elderly villagers in the village of Umurca were emotionally affected by the situation of the refugees during the recent escape attempts. They made a constant declaration of mercy. One of the villagers we spoke to said, “The other day I saw five people sitting at the edge of my field and my corn was cut off. When I went to them, they offered me some of my corn. What can they actually do, there is nothing good for them here, they want to leave anyway, what harm can they do to us”.

The village of Nasuhbey is only 500 metres from the border. Intensive fishing is done there. Refugees have come through the village, but at the moment there are no migrants. The boatmen of the village brought many refugees to Greece with the support of the gendarmerie. A Greek soldier acted extremely hard, even opened fire and smashed one of the boats.

The village of Alibey is a place where scattered refugees from the surrounding villages gathered. This was told to us by villagers who had accommodated about 200 people in a big white tent at the entrance of the village. One of the villagers we spoke to explained that they had already brought 80-90 people to Greece this morning.

On the other hand, the compulsion to live with structural impossibilities and limited resources for a long time creates high tension in the camp area of Pazarkule. Our friends in the camp in Karaağaç explained today that there was a fight between different groups around half past five in the morning and that this tension increased in the evening and developed into a conflict.

We received information about the ambulances that came to the area because of these conflicts and injuries of many people. Some 250 law enforcement vehicles also entered the area after those who were injured had been moved and the conflict situation had calmed down.

During the day, seven buses carrying those returning to Istanbul left the area.

Several refugee women have started a protest last night, demanding the opening of the gate in spite of heavy rain and cold in front of the barbed wire between Turkey and Greece.

Some of our friends in the camp area explained that many want to leave the camp and return to their place of residence, as changing weather conditions, increasing cold and heavy rain made the accommodation conditions more and more difficult. On the other hand, they know that the feeling “we cross this border or we die” is also widespread, and false information like that the bus is going to Germany is spreading. Although they are aware that thousands of people are still waiting outside the gate of Pazarkule to enter the area, they said that there is still hope.

“We are human beings, we are refugees. It can happen to anyone. We have fled from the difficulties that everyone can experience in their own country. We are not the problem itself. Don’t forget about us. Talk about us. No one gives us hope. We give ourselves hope.”

While the uncertainty increases due to the lack of information about their fate, exhaustion increases. They complain about the lack of visibility of their situation and that it is overshadowed by the corona virus.

They can leave the area and go to cafes to charge their cell phones, but if they charge more than one cell phone and the police see them, they are beaten out of the cafes.

Noborder Pazarkule/Evros, March 16, 2020.

As soon as the situation allows (due to Corona restrictions by several EU governments) the Cars of Hope collective will travel to Greece  again to support refugees. They need your support to continue their work. Read their statement here.

You can support them by Bank transfer or Paypal:

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Account holder: Hopetal e.V.

Description: Cars of Hope

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