Turkish Gendarmerie forces opened fire on a vehicle carrying migrants in the eastern town of Van, on the Iranian border, killing a child and injuring 12 other immigrants. The entire political and media establishment is relentlessly campaigning against refugees and bears political responsibility for this incident. It happened shortly after the massacre of at least 37 migrants by security forces on the Spanish-Moroccan border.
On July 3, gendarmerie teams carrying out a traffic check in the district of Van’s Saray, on the Iranian border, opened fire on a van which allegedly violated a “stop” warning. The driver of the van fled, but Gazette Duvar reported that four of the 12 injured are in serious condition and one of the deceased was a four-year-old child. According to the statement from the governorate of Van, all the injured were slightly injured.
In its statement, the Governorate of Van said: “In order to stop the vehicle whose driver did not obey the ‘stop’ warning and proceeded towards the gendarmerie personnel, shots were fired. been fired at the tires of the vehicle”. However, photographs taken after the incident show numerous bullet marks in the rear of the vehicle.
The governorate also claimed that the death and injuries were caused by “ricocheting” bullets, alleging: “It was determined that the vehicle was used for migrant smuggling and that there were 40 irregular migrants in inside. Unfortunately, one migrant unfortunately lost his life and 12 irregular migrants were slightly injured due to ricocheting bullets.
Prior to that, on July 1, 35 refugees escaped from a refugee camp in Cevdetiye district in Osmaniye, a southern town. A fascist mob quickly formed alongside the deployment of large numbers of gendarmes to catch them. This underscores that the anti-refugee propaganda long carried out by bourgeois politicians and the media establishment has reached an extremely dangerous level.
Many recent similar incidents make it clear that refugee camps in Turkey are no different from prisons. Recently, at a camp for 30,000 refugees in the southern town of Sarıçam district of Adana, a group of refugees marched to protest poor food. On June 15, hundreds of refugees demonstrated in a refugee camp in the Kapuçam district of Kahramanmaraş. The demonstrators were dispersed by the police.
These events were almost completely ignored by the political establishment and the corporate media. For decades, the Turkish ruling class and its media have supported imperialist wars and US-led regime change operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and beyond. Entire societies have been devastated by these criminal wars, with tens of millions displaced.
As millions of people from Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa attempt to reach Europe in the hope of finding refuge there, the European Union’s Fortress Europe policy ( EU) has turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard for refugees. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, together with Greece, has taken it upon itself to protect Europe’s borders from refugees.
Ankara’s dirty deal with the EU to prevent refugees from entering Europe has turned Turkey into a huge refugee prison. According to President Erdoğan’s statement in December 2021, there were around 5 million refugees in Turkey. According to a report by the Refugee Association, as of June 23, the number of Syrians in Turkey was 3,684,488.
The Erdoğan government and the entire ruling class are facing a deepening economic, social and political crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic and NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine. While the official annual inflation in Turkey has reached 78%, according to the Independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG), the actual annual inflation has reached 175%. With an estimated 90% of the population living below the poverty line, social inequalities are greater than ever as the government pursues pro-bourgeois policies during the pandemic.
This year, as a wave of wildcat strikes by workers sweeps across many industries, the political and media establishment is responding to growing social anger and working class militancy with a chauvinistic anti-refugee campaign. This campaign, which aims to divide and confuse working people, turns defenseless refugees into scapegoats, while all establishment parties pledge to prevent asylum seekers from coming to Turkey and to send refugees back to their country of origin.
Boasting of having repatriated half a million Syrians since 2016, Erdoğan announced in May that he would send back another 1 million Syrian refugees. He said: “We are preparing a new project that will ensure the voluntary return of one million Syrian brothers and sisters whom we welcome to our country. We will implement this project with the support of our country and international non-governmental organizations.
The bourgeois opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its allies, including the far-right Good Party, backed by pseudo-left parties, have criticized the government’s actions from the right. They attack the government’s efforts to block refugees as “insufficient”. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said of Erdoğan’s plan to send back a million Syrian refugees: “Go ahead! There are still streams of fugitives coming from the border. We’ll send the rest back in two years, and we’re all sick of your bogus plans.
However, the most prominent party in the anti-refugee campaign has been the Victory Party (Zafer Partisi). Founded by Ümit Özdağ, a former member of the Good Party, this middle-class party sees refugees as Turkey’s main problem and is campaigning hysterically for their expulsion.
On June 27, Özdağ announced that he would travel to Reyhanlı, a Hatay town on the Syrian border, to plant a landmine on the border, and pledged to plant more mines after he came to power. While Özdağ was barred from entering the city by Hatay Governorate, no one thought to ask where and how this fascist politician found a landmine.
As a result of this reactionary campaign by the entire political and media establishment, fascistic attacks on refugees in Turkey are on the rise. Three Syrian refugees were burned to death in Izmir last November, and a far-right mob raided a Syrian neighborhood in Ankara in August. After a dispute between Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens erupted in Adana last May, attacks were reportedly carried out on Syrians’ homes; four people were injured.
These attacks and many others are a serious warning to the working class as a whole. The fascist mobs which today, with the encouragement of the ruling class, target defenseless refugees will in the coming period target workers who go on strike or stage demonstrations for decent wages, better social conditions and democratic rights.
The way forward against the growing far-right and anti-refugee campaign is through the fight for international socialist unity of the working class, the rejection of all forms of chauvinism and nationalism, and the fight against imperialist war .