Syrian refugees in Turkey launch online campaign against deportations
Syrian activists have launched an online campaign calling on Turkish authorities to halt the arbitrary deportation of Syrian refugees to Syria, Syria's North Press Agency reported on Saturday.
The campaign was sparked by a deportation order issued on Wednesday against Hamza al-Hamami, a Syrian refugee arrested last week, allegedly following a dispute with Turkish men near his shop in Istanbul.
The Turkish police reportedly arrested al-Hamami for "blocking" the street and intimidating passers-by.
Under the Arabic and Turkish hashtags "Justice for Hamza al-Hamami", activists asked for Hamza's release and called on Turkish authorities to stop using administrative detention - under which police can temporarily detain people without taking them to court - to pressure refugees to sign "voluntary return" documents and deport them to Syria.
The Hamami incident is the latest in a long list involving discrimination and xenophobic violence against Syrians in Turkey.
An estimated 3.7 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
Amid a worsening economic situation in Turkey and rising unemployment, Syrians have suffered increasing discrimination, with some being rounded up and arbitrarily deported to war zones in Syria by Turkish authorities.
In 2019, the Istanbul mayoral election was accompanied by a wave of racism and attacks on Syrians as populist candidates scapegoated refugees for local issues.
In October, Turkish authorities arrested and threatened to deport several Syrians after they posted sarcastic videos online, in response to comments by a Turkish man who accused Syrian refugees of driving up the prices of bananas.