Refugees in Turkey feel threatened as racist attacks escalate

In Turkey, where Kurds have been the victims of state-sponsored racism for decades, refugees feel threatened as xenophobic attacks are continuing.

France 24 channel reported on the increasing xenophobic attacks against refugees in Turkey. Some Arab refugees living in the north-western city of Bolu spoke to France 24 about the racist approaches they have been subjected to recently.

An Iraqi Arab migrant who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons said that he settled down in Bolu seven years ago.

“Here, there is no distinction between the Iraqi and Syrian people. A few months ago, Turkish soldiers died in Syria. Some Turks put the blame on all of the Arabs for this. They told us 'Go home and fight; why are we dying in your country on behalf of you?' Why should this be my fault?” the Iraqi migrant reacted.

The Iraqi man expressed that they fled the war and are now faced with another type of violence. “Psychological war is bigger than real war. When you work, they see you as if you are privileged, very rich, and stealing their work. This is more serious than a war with real weapons,” he added.

France 24 pointed to the racist practices of Bolu Municipality towards foreigners. The French news outlet pointed out that the recent economic shrinkage in Turkey has worsened the situation. According to the report, refugees are held responsible for the increase in real estate prices and the decrease in wages. However, the biggest source of concern is ‘the banalization of xenophobia’, according to France 24.

In November, the Bolu Municipality Council approved a racist decision by majority of votes, according to which foreigners will have to pay for the water they use in dollars, not Turkish lira. Moreover, they have to pay 100,000 Turkish liras if they want to get married in the city. Even though the decision was suspended following an investigation launched after public reaction, migrants and refugees are the target of deadly attacks as well as discrimination both in Bolu and in many other cities of the country.

This week, a Syrian refugee living in Istanbul's Bayrampaşa district died in a racist attack.

“After we witnessed an increase in xenophobic attacks in the first 10 days of 2022, we would like to urge the state authorities to take urgent measures to prevent racist attacks. Since broad civic involvement is needed to combat racism, we therefore call on everyone to fight against it,” the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) said.