6,000 migrants arrested in Istanbul crackdown

Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

6,000 migrants arrested in Istanbul crackdown

  • There has been concern in recent days over reports that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been sent back to Syria
  • “We have been carrying out an operation since July 12... We have caught 6,122 people in Istanbul, including 2,600 Afghans,” a Turkish minister said

ISTANBUL: A crackdown on unregistered migrants in Istanbul has seen 6,000 arrests including Syrians in the past two weeks, the interior minister said Wednesday.
There has been concern in recent days over reports that hundreds of Syrian refugees have been sent back to Syria, after being forced to sign consent forms in Turkish that they do not understand.
Soylu denied the claims.
“We have been carrying out an operation since July 12... We have caught 6,122 people in Istanbul, including 2,600 Afghans,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told TV station NTV.
He said Syrians were part of the group, without giving numbers.
“When we catch Syrians who are not registered, we send them to refugee camps,” he said, citing a camp in the Turkish border province of Hatay.
However, he said some Syrians were choosing to go back to their home country “voluntarily” to areas where fighting has abated.
Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world.
Most have “temporary protection” permits but these restrict them to the province in which they were registered. The current crackdown is aimed at those who live in Istanbul without a permit to stay in the city.
A coalition of Syrian NGOs said Monday that more than 600 Syrians — mostly with protection permits issued in other provinces — were arrested in Istanbul last week and deported back to Syria, rather than to their assigned provinces.
The crackdown is orchestrated by the Istanbul governor’s office, which is controlled by the central government in Ankara.
It follows the defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party in the Istanbul party, with some arguing that the large presence of refugees in the city had hurt the ruling party’s popularity.
The governor’s office says there are 547,000 Syrians registered in the city.
A survey published this month by Kadir Has University in Istanbul showed growing hostility toward them, rising from 54.5 percent of respondents in 2017 to 67.7 percent in 2019.


Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 15 min 15 sec ago

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

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The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.