Whether Erdogan stays or leaves… an “unknown future” for Syrian refugees in Turkey

Whether Erdogan stays or leaves… an “unknown future” for Syrian refugees in Turkey
Whether Erdogan stays or leaves… an “unknown future” for Syrian refugees in Turkey

Syrians in Turkey face an uncertain future whether current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wins or loses the elections, as fears of deportation intensify as conflict with rival parties intensifies and opposition calls for the expulsion of Syrians from the country escalate, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

About 4 million Syrians live in Turkey, who have taken root in the country over the past decade despite the increasingly hostile climate.

The newspaper says that the latest opinion polls indicate that at least 80 percent of Turks want the Syrians to return to their country.

Among the Syrians with whom the newspaper spoke was a young man named Rakan Talib, 26 years old, who had arrived in the city of Gaziantep in southern Turkey in 2014 after fleeing the advance of ISIS on his city of Deir Ezzor.

A student dreamed of studying medicine, but he left it all behind after he left his studies and went to work in Turkey and succeeded in owning his own shop about two years ago.

“I lost my education, my future and almost everything in order to come here and live in safety and dignity,” says Talib.

He added, “Many are talking about restoring relations with Bashar al-Assad and deporting us to Syria,” noting that “the election results will be fateful for me and for all Syrians in Turkey.”

The conflict has intensified between Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party and nationalist opposition parties that speak out over the fate of the Syrian community in Turkey.

The newspaper says that the two parties are competing to see who can pledge to take strict measures against immigration and quickly restore relations with Assad.

“The Syrian community is about to suffer the loss, no matter who wins Sunday’s elections,” she adds.

Despite promises to usher in a new era of justice and democracy, opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has been particularly vocal about his desire to deport Syrian refugees.

On the other hand, Erdogan reacted to these efforts by pressing for a quick restoration of relations with Damascus.


In the past year, the Turkish government has stepped up what it calls a “voluntary return” program to Syria, although Syrians and rights groups deny that most of the returnees participated of their own free will.

Human Rights Watch previously reported that returnees were often arrested or forced to sign deportation forms.

She also indicated that the Turkish authorities assaulted them, and in some cases forced them to cross the border into Syria at gunpoint.

Syrians who participated in the “voluntary return” program in Turkey spoke of the harsh treatment they were subjected to by the Turks as well as how many of them faced the risk of arrest, torture, enforced disappearance and poverty in their home country.

Others from the Syrian community in Gaziantep described how their returning friends disappeared upon their arrival in Syria.

Among them is Khaled al-Homsi, a journalist who was arrested at a checkpoint in Turkey earlier this year.

“In the beginning, I was pressured into accepting deportation after I resisted many times, because I knew very well that it meant leaving my family behind in Turkey,” al-Homsi says.

Al-Homsi was forced to sign deportation papers and then deported to Tell Abyad in northern Syria.

“I lived in Turkey for nearly seven years, and after losing everything in Syria the first time, I now see myself losing everything I built in Turkey over the past few years, and once again having to start from scratch,” al-Homsi told the Guardian.

Al-Homsi believes that “the Turkish elections do not mean anything to me at all, and I do not care who wins.”

“We all know that refugees are a political football that the current government uses to appease the opposition, while the opposition uses it to appease the broader Turkish public,” he added.