Human Rights Association calls for global fight for refugee rights

While more and more people have to flee, rich countries are increasingly barricading themselves. Güseren Yoleri, chair of the IHD office in Istanbul, criticized the international migration policy and called for a global fight for refugee rights.

The hegemonic wars of the major international powers and their regional allies are causing more and more people to flee the Near and Middle East. Global warming caused, among other things, by the capitalist lifestyle and production methods is making more and more areas of land uninhabitable. According to the UNHCR, 108.4 million people are currently displaced. Many people are making their way to Europe. Countless people, especially from African countries, drown in the Mediterranean, while Turkey plays an important role as a transit state for those seeking protection. According to official information, 4.9 million migrants are registered in Turkey, two million of whom live illegally. The Turkish state uses asylum seekers as a means of exerting pressure on the EU as well as for its colonial projects in Northern and Eastern Syria.

In an interview with the Mesopotamia news agency, the chair of the Istanbul office of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Gülseren Yoleri, criticized the international migration policy and said it is deeply inhumane. Yoleri pointed to the agreements signed by European countries which allow the old continent to become a fortress. By barricading themselves, European countries have de facto abolished the right to flee, a fundamental humanitarian right.

Yoleri underlined that many people are now fleeing not only war and political persecution. They are fleeing for ecological reasons and poverty. However, these aspects would not be included in international conventions. International pressure is necessary for this, said the human rights defender.

EU is trying to externalize refugee camps

Yoleri spoke about the camps that restrict the rights of asylum seekers. In Turkey, the rights of migrants are violated in these camps. In particular, the violation of the rights of women and children in the camps is increasing day by day. Yoleri pointed out that this development can also be observed in European countries and said: "There is a new discussion going on in Europe these days about refugee camps. The EU summit in 2023, for example, saw massive pressure being built to push EU countries not even to accept camps within their own borders. Instead, Europe is pushing to externalize camp policy."

Greece and Turkey are used as camps

Yoleri criticized the fact that European states use countries like Turkey and Greece as "refugee camps" and used the term "depots for migrants" to underline the dehumanization of the issue. She said that billions of euros are received by Turkey in return for its “policing” role to prevent refugees from reaching “fortress Europe”.

Great Britain, said the human rights defender, has reached a new low with its ship prison for refugees. "With its refugee ship prison, the United Kingdom has brought a new dimension to the action against those seeking protection onto the agenda. It has effectively put these people in a ship prison that completely isolates them from society. While these countries debate extensively about how to keep people seeking protection away from their borders and increase security measures against refugees, they are not addressing the causes that lead to flight and migration at all."

Racist policy against refugees

Yoleri said that Turkey signed the Geneva Convention on Refugees only with regional reservations, meaning that only people from Europe can apply for asylum. There is a racist policy particularly against those seeking protection from Syria. The claims that those seeking protection are privileged are not true. Yoleri said that the only thing that is free for those seeking protection from Syria is attending educational institutions. And of course, education is mandatory. Given the challenges, she warned: "These people face discrimination and language barriers. Even for the group that supposedly enjoys the most protection, there are incredible problems. This is a manipulation of facts to create an anti-refugee atmosphere."

The refugee issue can’t be solved politically; a humanitarian solution is necessary

Yoleri underlined that the government is acting with a state-based logic on the refugee issue, when this is an issue that must be solved not politically but on a humanitarian basis. "Countries must approach this problem in a humanitarian way and not politically. If we do not put a clear humanitarian approach and a solution based on humanitarian principles on the agenda, there will be no solution. Wars must be prevented and peace must be promoted. Solving this problem seems easy. But unfortunately, the state mentality and political interests make this process difficult. Therefore, a global fight against these global policies must be strengthened."