Nawras Abdullah, a Syrian refugee who participated in the demonstration in Omonoia Square, told ECPMF: "Greek people are really nice and great; we are moved by their kindness, but really shocked because of the soulless EU-Turkey deal". He also explained that it was impossible for him and many other Syrian refugees to stay in Turkey, where they are not allowed to work and do not receive any aid.
Yousif Belal, another Syrian refugee, added to this: "We lost all our property in Syria and we paid our savings to reach Greece. If they forced us to go back to Turkey, we would lose everything."
The EU-Turkey deal on refugees
Now, the Turkish military forces are enforcing the EU deal on refugees. On 22 March they shot at Syrian refugees, including the family of Mahmoud Almatar (he got killed, while his family was unharmed). The family was fleeing Alraqqa, which is under ISIS control, after ISIS kidnapped one of their sons.
On Monday, 4 April, it was reported that three boats carrying 197 deportees arrived at the Turkish port of Dikili from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chois, under the EU-Turkey deal.
"Officials from the EU border agency Frontex said that Lesbos boats were carrying mostly Pakistanis who were already being deported to Turkey before the deal's creation. As such Monday's deportations are not a true test of whether the agreement can stop the flow of mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis to Greece," according to The Guardian.
The European Union deal with Turkey states that "all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. This will take place in full accordance with EU and international law, thus excluding any kind of collective expulsion. All migrants will be protected in accordance with the relevant international standards and in respect of the principle of non-refoulement (non-refoulement is a principle of law which forbids the rendering of a true victim of persecution to his or her persecutor). It will be a temporary and extraordinary measure. It is an international agreement. The agreement took effect from 20 March 2016. No information is available about whether it can be renewed and when it is due to expire."
"Migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed individually by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum Procedures Directive, in co-operation with UNHCR. Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey," according to a press release by the European Council on 18 March.
The deal was made unanimously by the members of the European Council on Friday, 18 March, and was described by The Independent as “a dark day for Europe”.
‘The cyanide pill’
Meanwhile, the situation for refugees in Turkey is getting worse. The procedures to receive a residence permit are long and complicated. Being able to legalise their status much more easily before, Syrians in Turkey are now supposed to prove the possession of valid passports, almost 2500 US dollars or 6000 Turkish Liras (which equals nearly 2240 Euro) and health insurance to be able to legally stay in the country. Often, they cannot send their children to regular schools as the educational system is unable to integrate foreign students.
Amnesty International called the EU-Turkey refugee deal "a historic blow to rights." Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, John Dalhuisen, said: "Promises to respect international and European law appear suspiciously like sugar-coating the cyanide pill that refugee protection in Europe has just been forced to swallow."
Many Syrian activists and journalists had been killed in Turkey by the end of 2015. In October, Ibrahim Abdulkader and Faris Hammadi from the activist group ‘Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered’ were killed in southeastern Turkey and found beheaded in their apartment. In December 2015, the Syrian journalist and filmmaker Naji Aljerf was assassinated in Gaziantep one day before he and his family were supposed to fly to France after their asylum request was approved.