As the world is watching the dystopic images from the Greek-Turkish border, one particular video has caused outrage among Turkish nationalists. In the video a young Syrian, aiming to cross the border to Europe, says, “my friends who have been able to get to Europe studied at university, they improved themselves. Here we had nothing. We did not tell you to go fight in Syria, you went there to fight for your interests”. The young Syrian, understandably was angry at Turkey, that hosted around 4 million Syrians.
It was politically useful for Turkey to open its borders when the civil war started in Syria. Turkey then aimed at draining the Syrian population to leave Assad weak, as well as to create a proxy army to fight Assad. From the very beginning Turkey’s aim was to use Syrians in Turkey as a weapon. Which it does.
However, as the young Syrian said, not much was waiting for Syrians in Turkey. They have had to work unrecorded for very low salaries. Young girls have been bought and sold as second, third wives. They often have to pay double the actual rent to secure a place to live. They have been often been looked down on, facing attacks and racism.
According to the agreement reached in 2016, the EU would pay Turkey billions of Euros to keep Syrians in Turkey. This was a double win for Erdoğan: He would get use Syrians as a strategic card while being paid for it. However, Erdoğan continually misinformed the public about the EU money. He kept emphasizing that Europe was not sending the needed money. The Turkish public, themselves struggling with poverty, came to think that the health services or monthly aid Syrians received were being paid by Turkish taxpayer money, when all this budget came from the EU.
Now we are at the point Turkey has been playing the wild card of Turkey's Syrian population. Erdoğan had a grin on his face as he was announcing the number of people flooding to Greek border had reached to hundred thousands. When he said the number will reach millions, his listeners started cheering.
That grin itself is explanatory enough. As Turkish authorities claim they are not sending refugees out of Turkey by force, correspondents on the ground tell another story. Burcu Karakaş, DW Turkish correspondent following the refugees, told me that refugees, squeezed in at the border, are furious. They told her that Turkey has deceived them, having been given the impression by Turkish authorities that the borders were open; they were not informed that the only open border was the Turkish one.
As she was covering stories on Aycakık shores, Karakaş saw a boat full of refugees returned from Lesvos, pushed back by the Greek guards. She saw gendarmes ushering the returning refugees to a bus to take them to Edirne, the land border.
An opposition TV channel filmed the buses, arranged by the official Migration Bureau of Turkey, waiting in Istanbul to take the refugees to the border. In Artı TV’s video we can see refugees trying to get to the Greek border being “assisted” by the authorities with free rides.
The refugees are not being told the truth by the authorities, and the Turkish public is not being told the truth either. Everybody is being kept in a darkness that leads to more resentment and hatred.