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.


Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

Updated 25 min 41 sec ago

Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

  • Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues
  • The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week

ISTANBUL: Turkey has imposed a travel ban on Emma Winberg, the wife of James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue Foundation, who was found dead in Istanbul on Monday.
Speculation abounds over the circumstances of Le Mesurier’s death, with questions over whether the former British intelligence officer was murdered or committed suicide.
Though Turkish police sources believe Le Mesurier jumped to his death from his flat, his wife, 39, has not been allowed to return home because of Turkish law.
Le Mesurier had reportedly told his wife of suicidal thoughts two weeks before the incident. His wife notified the police that he was in a deteriorating psychological state and taking anti-depressants and medication for stress. His hospital records are also being examined.
Umur Yildirim, an attorney specialized in criminal justice, said that according to Turkish law, it was possible for Turkish authorities to impose a travel ban on people not of Turkish nationality of importance to an open investigation.  
Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues.
Based on reports, Le Mesurier’s residence was only accessible via fingerprint, and in testimony released by Turkish authorities, Winberg claimed the pair had taken sleeping pills at around 4 a.m.the night before. She was woken by police after they were notified of a body lying outside the building.
The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week. The investigation continues.
Le Mesurier was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the UK government in 2016.