Turkey is a valued NATO member, a close US ally. Last month, the EU bribed Turkey with 3 billion euros and promised help to join the bloc in return for accepting refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries its member states don’t want.
EU leaders called the deal a key way to stem the tide of asylum-seekers. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it marked a new beginning in Ankara/Brussels relations.
Given Turkey’s horrific human rights record and unsavory history, especially under Erdogan, distrust remains high.
Agreement terms call for Ankara to increase Aegean Sea patrols in areas bordering Greece and Bulgaria, crack down on human smuggling gangs, and accept refugees turned away by EU countries.
European Council President Donald Tusk said EU officials will closely monitor Turkey’s implementation of terms reached. Davutoglu wouldn’t guarantee a slowdown in the human flood seeking safe havens in Europe, Germany the most favored destination.
Turkey is the main crossing point for Syrian and other regional refugees. It’s a short distance by sea to Greece. This year, well over 700,000 asylum seekers arrived in EU countries from Turkey, according to the International Organization of Migration.
A new Amnesty International (AI) report titled “Europe’s Gatekeeper” accuses Turkey of arresting, beating, painfully shackling and otherwise abusing refugees in isolated detention centers, many then deported back to war-torn Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, their homeland countries.
AI said EU nations are “in danger of being complicit in serious human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers.”
They’re rounded up in large numbers, bused over 1,000km to desolate locations best described as concentration camps, grossly mistreated and held incommunicado – many then forcibly deported back from where they came.
According to AI’s Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen:
“(w)e have documented the arbitrary detention of some of the most vulnerable people on Turkish soil.”
“Pressuring refugees and asylum-seekers to return to countries like Syria and Iraq is not only unconscionable, but it’s also in direct breach of international law.”
“By engaging Turkey as a gatekeeper for Europe in the refugee crisis, the EU is in danger of ignoring and now encouraging serious human rights violations. EU-Turkey migration-related cooperation should cease until such violations are investigated and ended.”
Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, including about 2.2 million Syrians and 230,000 desperate people from other regional countries.
Until last September, treatment didn’t include brutalizing lawless detentions and forced deportations. Terms of the EU deal require Turkey to treat refugees humanely.
Instead, its funds are used to brutalize and expel vulnerable people deserving much better. All refugees AI representatives interviewed said they were forcibly detained, taken to Turkey’s western provinces, including Edirne and Mugla, before transported to desolate southern or eastern outposts.
They’re forcibly detained for weeks and denied outside contacts, including with lawyers and family members. Their only means of communication is through concealed cell phones.
Cases of horrific treatment included a 40-year-old Syrian man, isolated for seven days, his hands and feet painfully shackled.
“When they put a chain over your hands and legs, you feel like a slave, like you are not a human being,” he said.
For many, this type horrific treatment is followed by pressure to sign a document in Turkish refugees don’t understand, then forced deportation.
Detainees said the only way they can leave detention is agreeing to return home. A three-year-old child’s fingerprints were used as evidence of his consent.
AI said it’s unknown how many refugees are being forcibly deported, but it believes it’s many, including to Afghanistan.
According to Dalhuisen, “(t)here is a total lack of transparency surrounding these cases and the real number of arbitrary detentions and unlawful deportations carried out by the Turkish authorities is unknown.”
“This new practice must be investigated immediately to protect all refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey.”
So far, EU officials have done nothing to intervene responsibly. They’re complicit with Turkey and Washington – their wars causing the human flood in the first place.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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