Twelve members of a criminal gang forcing Syrian children to beg on the streets were detained in an operation by the police on Sept. 11 in Istanbul.
The operation was launched after a denunciation regarding some Syrian children, most of whom are as old as the civil war in their country, who were being used for forced begging after being temporarily given away by their families in return for 1,000 Turkish Liras.
Simultaneous operations were conducted in different addresses in Istanbul. A total of 36 Syrian children were caught by police at metrobus stations, but some of them managed to escape.
Meanwhile, the 12 suspects were detained and some of their digital materials were seized by police during the operations.
Photographs seized during the operations showed gang members posing with the money collected by the Syrian children.
The children revealed to the police in their testimonies horrifying details about the way they were being treated by the criminal gang.
They told the police that the gang members had hired them from their families for 1,000 liras a month from the war-ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo and lied to them saying they would sell water and tissues in Istanbul.
The children also said they were beaten by the gang members if they hadn’t brought back at least 100 liras on a daily basis and were kept hungry and thirsty as punishment.
The gang would also beat up children who helped their hungry friends.
The children were exposed to more vulnerability while begging on the streets, with one child being hit by a car and having his leg broken as a result of it. The child was later smuggled out of hospital and was forced to continue begging with the broken leg.