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Turkey’s Abuse of Refugees
Asylum seekers, arrived in Edirne mostly from Istanbul and many other Turkish cities, are seen waiting at woodland near buffer zone located between the Kastanies and the Pazarkule border gates, hoping that Greece will open the border gate, on March 10, 2020 in Turkey's northwestern Edirne province. (Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkey’s Abuse of Refugees

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 5

The recent strikes carried out by pro-Assad forces in [Syria’s] Idlib province are a stark reminder of the importance of the rule of law. Not because of the 800 innocent civilians who were killed in Idlib over the course of the past few weeks but because of some 1 million refugees who have fled … with the hope of surviving the attacks. According to sources, the Syrian regime systematically targeted refugee camps and health care facilities in order to inflict maximal civilian damage. With nowhere else to go, these civilians started making their way to the Turkish border. Sadly, however, Turkey will not harbor them. Instead of taking them in and resettling them, Turkey will simply pass these individuals onward to Europe. But Europe cannot bear more of them, especially since among these innocent and vulnerable individuals are inevitably some hidden terrorists from Al-Nusra and other rebel groups. By tracing the flows of refugees, we can better understand the meaning of the rule of law. Why is it that Turkey can expel refugees to Europe while European countries insist on absorbing them? Why is it so easy for Turkey to blackmail Europe? The answer is that the rule of law in most European countries is sacred. Its revered status is not derived from a religious ruling but rather from the authority of the parliament, which is elected by the people. Among these laws are humanitarian laws related to the protection of refugees and foreigners. The Turkish government’s “dumping” of Syrian refugees onto European soil is telling of how the Turkish government views its own citizens: It has zero respect for them. While Western governments unconditionally accept refugees because that is the pledge they made in law, Turkey simply ignores its legal commitments. And just like it violates laws pertaining to refugees, it can easily violate other laws pertaining to the rights and protection of its own citizens. This is the difference between these two worlds: One enshrines the universality of law under democratic rule, while the other bends and twists laws to meet the interests and needs of a regime. – Abdallah Bin Bujeit (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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