In their "Freedom in the World 2020" report, the US government-funded organization Freedom House said Turkey has been the second country to limit freedoms and human rights the most in the past decade. The country's human rights score on the Freedom House scale was cut in half over the past decade when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has governed uninterruptedly. For 2019, the re-run of the Istanbul mayoral elections and the unwavering pressure on the opposition were deemed the biggest blows to freedoms.
Around 300 migrants at Ankara's Akyurt Repatriation Center were transported to the border against their will on the night of Feb. 29, Ankara Bar Association's Migrant Rights Center Chair Sadık Onur Gelbal said on March 4. According to a migrant still in the center, only 7 migrants stayed in the center after resisting deportation. Attorneys have not been allowed to visit it.
HDP MP accuses parliament immigration committee chair of preventing deputies from talking to migrants
HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said the chair of the parliament's Immigration and Integration Sub-Committee, Hakan Çavuşoğlu, prevented its members from interacting with the migrants whilst visiting the Pazarkule Border Gate on the Greek border. "He acted as if we were there on an excursion. We went to talk to people but were pressured to rush and make a statement to the press," he said.
One person was killed and five others were wounded when Greek police opened fire on migrants on the Turkish border. Speaking about the incident, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said that the scene is a disgrace. "We asked the [Edirne] Governor's Office whether they distributed tents to people sleeping in the cold. They said, 'No.' People are in miserable conditions," he said.
Following Turkey's announcement that authorities would no longer prevent refugees from leaving the country for Europe, large numbers of refugees rushed to Turkey's border with Greece and Bulgaria. Many also left on boats for the Greek islands, uninhibited by the Turkish coast guard. Yet many of Turkey's refugees wish to stay in the country, and some are worried they will be forcibly deported.
The Istanbul Governor's Office has banned anti-war rhetoric, meetings and propaganda until March 10 to ensure "peace and safety in the city." The official statement from the governor's office said that such ideology could lead to public unrest amid the government's military operations in Idlib.
As Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu claims over 130 thousand migrants have left the country through Edirne, the encampment near the Greek border remains crowded, encouraging police to redirect migrants to seaways as a crossing into Europe. Some 21 migrants were injured when a bus collided with a car on the highway to Çanakkale, some 42 migrants were rescued from a stranded dinghy near Lesbos and migrants already on the Greek island are camping out on the beach.
Police are the first to give migrants bad news in Edirne where they've arrived in hopes of crossing over to Greece. "You can't cross," police say before advising migrants to go to Doyran Village where they can cross the river easily, adding that this is a better way to enter Europe. Meanwhile, a human trafficker sits down to negotiate and bargain with migrants in the encampment next to the police. He boasts that he transports migrants to the Greek side safely, accompanied by soldiers.
Jailed Kurdish politician Alınak has sustained an injury to his head after slipping on ice and falling in the prison. After regaining consciousness, Alınak did not consent to wearing handcuffs while being escorted to the hospital. His wish was eventually accepted by the jail management, but there are many political prisoners who are denied of health services due to refusing to be handcuffed, said Alınak.
Houses and business places of Syrian refugees in Turkey's Kahramanmaraş province have been attacked by a group of locals. The racially motivated attack came following the death of at least 34 soldiers in Syria's Idlib last week.
The UN has said that actions of Turkey and Russia in Syria may amount to war crimes in a report covering the period from July 2019 to February 2020. The report called on Turkey to investigate whether it carried out an air strike on a civilian convoy near Ras al Ain that killed 11 people last October. Turkey has denied a role in the strike, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said was conducted by Turkish aircraft.
Greek police batter refugees who manage to cross the border at the Pazarkule Border Gate in the Thracian province of Edirne, Istanbul Bar Association's Human Rights Center said March 1 in a report about the camp area at the border. Some 200 to 300 migrants "were beaten up with thick sticks, and that their money and mobile phones were seized by Greek police," the report said.
Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu urged Greece to provide asylum to the migrants waiting at the border between the two countries, particularly the Pazarkule Border Gate where crowds have been piled at for five days. Meanwhile, Soylu said over 100,000 migrants have crossed over to Europe in Edirne as clashes continue between the crowds and Greek border patrol that's getting increasingly stricter.
Turkish security sources told Reuters that a Syrian refugee was shot dead by Greek border police on March 2, as he was trying to cross Turkey's western border -- a claim denied by Athens. Separately, the Greek coast guard said that one child died after being pulled from the seat when a boat capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos.
Over 60 intellectuals from Turkey have signed a petition calling for military retreat in Northern Syria and for troops to return home after 36 soldiers were killed in Idlib Feb. 27. Among the intellectuals are academics, authors, journalists and artists.