Syrian migrants flock to Turkish border town, face security forces
EDİRNE – Doğan News Agency
REUTERS photoAbout 250 Syrian migrants have attempted to walk to Pazarkule border gate in the northwestern province of Edirne in the hope of reaching Germany via Greece amid intervention by security forces.
Some 3,000 Syrian migrants connected through the Internet and came from various provinces across the country, arriving in Edirne with rented buses and private vehicles. Upon notice of their arrival, police and gendarmerie forces blocked their way to the city in compliance with a notice issued by the Interior Ministry.
However, about 250 migrants succeeded in reaching Edirne on foot and gathered at the city’s main bus terminal where they staged a sit-in protest. Security forces convinced a hundred migrants to return to Istanbul while the rest remained in the bus terminal.
Ahmet Mihtaki, a migrant speaking on behalf of the group, said that they wanted to get to Germany by foot via Greece due to failed attempts at sea, which resulted in capsizings and drowning.
“We are not afraid of anyone. We risked death and all hardships when we came here. Our aim is to go to Germany. Turkish people, soldiers and police are so good and merciful. They should allow us to cross the border on foot. We will cross the border and go to live. We are going because of the war in our country. They should understand us,” said Mihtaki.
In addition, children holding images of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian toddler photographed lying in the sand in Bodrum after drowning in an attempted crossing of the Aegean, also demanded to cross the border, saying they wanted to get education in Germany.
Meanwhile, around 800 Syrian migrants also tried to reach Edirne by walking on the TEM highway. Police and gendarmerie forces blocked their way as they chanted slogans and protested the security forces’ intervention.
Syrian migrants have also started to wait in Istanbul’s main bus terminal after they could not obtain tickets for buses bound for bordering Thracian provinces.
Migrants in Turkey are being denied access to provinces not listed on their identity cards, according to a notice issued by the Interior Ministry.
Authorities warned bus operating companies to comply with the notice and warned of potential lawsuits in which company officials would be tried as “human traffickers” if they sold tickets to migrants without checking their identity cards.
Upon the notice, which permits migrants inside Turkish territories to move freely only in and between cities listed on their migrant identity cards, the gendarmerie command in Edirne stepped up efforts to prevent migrants from entering the Thracian city by checking migrants’ identity cards on an order from the Edirne Governor’s Office.
Traffic in Turkey’s border provinces has been on the rise as European countries have changed their migrant policy to welcome more migrants after a deadly boat capsizing off the Aegean resort town of Bodrum left 12 migrants dead, including Aylan, whose picture sent shockwaves around the world.
Geographically located between war-torn Syria and Iraq in the southeast and the European Union member states of Bulgaria and Greece in the northwest, Turkey has come to be a transition point for foreign migrants looking to illegally cross into the EU in an endeavor to flee the violence in Iraq and Syria and seek a higher standard of living.