A protest held on Friday by a crowd mostly consisting of members of the We Want To Live Together Initiative expressed solidarity with refugees and demanded that the Turkish government stop deporting Syrians living in Istanbul.
According to the report by Haci Biskin from the Gazete Duvar news portal, the protest condemned the deadline given to Syrian refugees living in Istanbul to return to the province where they were initially registered with authorities.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office in July announced in a statement that the Syrians, who refused to go back to the cities where they were originally registered within a month, could face forced removal to those provinces.
Syrians currently living in Istanbul, who number up to 1 million people according to the city’s new mayor, have until August 20 to return to the cities where they received their temporary protection permits.
The temporary protection regime includes the right to stay in Turkey until a more permanent solution is found, protection against forcible returns to Syria, access to health, education, social assistance, psychological support and access to the labor market.
A group of protesters gathered in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul around 7.30 pm on Friday and voiced their demand for the government to stop the deportation of refugees so that they can live together with them in the city.
Among the crowd chanting “Stop deportations immediately” and “Don’t touch my neighbor, my brother” were representatives from Turkey’s two Marxist–Leninist communist political groups, the Labourist Movement Party (EHP) and the Labour Party (EMEP).
The demonstrators also held placards with the slogans “Open the borders” and “Stop violations of refugee rights” in Turkish, English, Kurdish, and Arabic.
During the protest, Ozgul Saki, the representative from the initiative, read a press statement that called on both the Turkish government and international authorities to strengthen solidarity with refugees.
“Nobody migrates without a reason. We call on all labor organizations to show solidarity with the refugees,” the statement read.
They added: “We will build a world that is beyond national and ethnic identities and that has no deportation, borders or social classes.”
The demonstrators ended their public statement underlining that they will expose and deny racism no matter which political formation or media outlet puts it into effect.
Syrian refugees began coming to Turkey when a civil war broke out between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government rebels in 2011.