Turkish police stop migrants’ advance toward Greek border
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotosHundreds of migrants who had been camping at the central bus terminal in Istanbul for days have begun walking along a highway connecting Istanbul to the northwestern province of Edirne, about 230 kilometers away, in a bid to reach border crossings between Turkey and Europe.
The group started walking from the Grand Istanbul Bus Terminal in the Bayrampaşa neighborhood along the TEM highway northwest to Edirne at around 2 a.m. on Sept. 21 after days of camping in the terminal, marches and protests against security personnel for not letting them through border crossings.
They then took a two-hour break to sleep on a green area by the highway before resuming their journey and set off once more at sunrise.
Police teams initially escorted the group, which included children, but later intervened near Istanbul’s Avcılar district.
The migrants protested the police by initiating a sit-in.
Some migrants said they were forced to seek a better life in Europe due to the low quality of life they experienced in Turkey, adding they waited for days at the Istanbul bus terminal hoping to travel to Edirne by bus.
Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Secretary General Gürsel Tekin and İzmir deputy Mustafa Balbay arrived at the scene to obtain information from the police.
Security officers said the migrants would not be permitted to walk and they were obliged to return to their residences within Turkey.
Speaking to the press, Tekin said the migrants wanted to try their chances in Europe as they had no access to social services in Turkey.
“Nobody in Turkey guides these people, nobody provides shelter or access to education or health care,” Tekin said.
“They try to go to Europe out of hope. Unfortunately, the government is responsible for this situation.”
The migrants’ journey was not one “to hope” but “to the unknown,” Balbay said.
“They say they will go to Edirne. They do not know how far it is or how many hours it will take to walk there.
They only say ‘God knows,’” he said, adding that making legal reforms was necessary, as the situation had become a “tragedy.”
After hearing the migrants’ demands, Tekin and Balbay headed off to Edirne.
While journalists were forbidden to enter the area, the police convinced the migrants to move ahead outside of the highway. The TEM was then opened to traffic, following a thirty-minute stoppage.
Meanwhile, Edirne Governor Dursun Ali Şahin said on Sept. 21 that Sept. 22 was the deadline for Syrian migrants to leave the city, saying, “We will send them not to camps, but to provinces that they want to go to.”
Şahin said the governor’s office had organized a meeting between Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and representatives of migrant groups, making good on its promise.
Following the meeting, Davutoğlu said on Sept. 19 he would bring the situation of Syrian migrants to the table in the United Nations General Assembly and he would write letters to world leaders to voice the Syrians migrant’s agony.