Increasing hate crimes lead to death of 21 refugees in 3 years in Turkey

Syrian Refugees go about their daily lives at the refugee camp in Osmaniye on December 15, 2015. AFP

At least 21 refugees and asylum seekers were killed in Turkey as a result of increasing hate crimes against them between January 2020 and November 2022, according to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

“Discrimination and hate speech against refugees and asylum seekers must end,” the TİHV tweeted on June 20, World Refugee Day.

A report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said there are more than 5.2 million foreign nationals present in Turkey, 3.9 million of whom are seeking international protection. Turkey, under its temporary protection regime, has granted 3,535,898 Syrian nationals the right to legally stay in the country.

In recent years refugees and minorities have become the groups most targeted by negative political rhetoric and hate speech. In Turkey Syrians have been at the center of anti-refugee sentiment, expressed especially on social media and often by political parties.

Attitudes about refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria have gradually hardened in Turkey, where they used to be welcomed with open arms, sympathy and compassion, as the number of newcomers has swelled over the past decade.

Anti-refugee sentiment among the Turkish public reached a tipping point following massive earthquakes in southern Turkey in February 2023. 

Syrian refugees have sought to return to their war-torn country after swaths of their adopted home were destroyed by the earthquakes, with some 60,000 Syrian refugees returning home since February.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom’s (SCF) latest report, “Hate speech and hate crimes against Syrian refugees in Turkey,” focuses on the inflammatory rhetoric and illegal acts motivated by prejudice faced by refugees who fled the civil war in Syria to take shelter in Turkey.

The SCF report sets out some reported cases of hate speech and hate crimes against Syrian refugees.

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