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.


Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

Updated 17 November 2019

Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

  • Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad
  • More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies.
Protesters made a barricade of old cabinets, trash cans and metal sheeting on the bridge while security forces took positions behind blast walls installed to prevent protesters from crossing to the other side. Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.
On Saturday, Iraqi demonstrators reoccupied part of adjacent Sinak Bridge and a nearby tall building in Baghdad that security forces had pushed them away from a week before. They have held a third bridge, Jamhuriya, since October 25.
More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.
In Basra in the south, dozens of protesters burned tires and briefly blocked some roads on Sunday, before police managed to restore control and reopen them, police said.
The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.