In March 2020 several syrian-led organisations based in Vienna gatherd with a number of activist from different backgrounds and had a disscussion about the recent developments at the Greek borders to Turkey in order to come out with this statment that we are glad to share with you.
This statement communicates our opinions and delivers our recommendations as Syrians, living in Austria, to all stakeholders and desicion makers.
For the Arabic version please click here
For the German version please click here
Statement from Syrian civil society in Vienna regarding the situation at the Greek-Turkish borders
In view of the rapid events regarding the humanitarian situation in Idlib and the developments that led Turkey to opening their borders to Europe, the flow of a large number of Syrians and refugees of all nationalities to the Greek border, and the closure of the border by the Greek authorities along with using expired and toxic tear gas that caused the death of a child and a man to prevent them from entering its territory, so that they don’t become under EU laws guaranteeing their right to asylum, which resulted in serious human rights violations, as reports shows.
And starting from our responsibility as Syrians residing in Austria to speak up, advocate and mobilize issues that affect Syrians and address human rights violations around the world.
And emphasizing the necessity that the EU stay committed to its moral, legal and humanitarian obligations towards the Syrian people and most importantly, to respect the right of everyone in danger to seek refuge and have a decent life.
With the awareness of the challenge posed by the emerging COVID-19 virus to the entire world, we urge you to save the people stuck at your borders because the world cannot afford another refugee mass death!
We demand the following
- Greece and EU to find an immediate solution to meet the needs of the people waiting in a very inhuman situation. The solution should comply with the human rights laws, especially the right to seek asylum, and to ensure such crises don’t happen again. Those people are the victims of the human-trafficking policy Turkey is applying and they shouldn’t pay for its political deficits.
- Greece to immediately stop the excessive violence and to release the people detained under their authorities and open transparent investigations regarding the violations committed by their soldiers and policemen. We condemn the push-back policy Greece is using by hitting, humiliating and torturing civilians before sending them back to Turkey without their belongings and IDs. As we are worried that these behaviours are violating the absolute right of every human not to be subject to torture or any inhuman or degrading treatment anchored in Art. 3 of ECHR, by which Greece and the EU are bound.
- Turkey to open its borders with Syria and welcome all the IDPs from Idlib in northern west Syria due to the latest military activities. Further, to STOP using the Syrian people as a card to exercise political pressure on their partners! The humanitarian situation in northern west Syria cannot be ignored. We don’t see any wisdom or a solution-finding path by opening the borders towards Europe and closing it to the faces of Syrians fleeing Idlib.
- We appeal to all states involved in the Syrian tragedy and we name Turkey, Russia, USA and the EU to put more pressure on the Syrian regime in order to push for a just and comprehensive solution, which ensures a ceasefire, an immediate release of the detainees, and an end to the systematic killing against those who oppose the regime in Syria. A step to enable a real political transition that meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people to build a state of law. We find the current political engagement of those states as a participation in killing the Syrian people.
We also recommend
- Increasing the humanitarian aid to the local organization in the northern west of Syria and to mobilize more aid to the people at the Greek-Turkish borders. We need fast actions to prevent any outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the refugees!
- Finding a solution that complies with human rights standards and stopping the barter deals with Turkey. We also recommend to open and support current programs of resettlement for refugees in Greece and neighbouring countries.
- We strictly reject any policy that separates families, especially the call to receive women and children only. That violates Art.8 ECHR that protects family and private life. We encourage the EU to welcome families as a whole with no conditions.
- We understand the need to stop the blackmail by the Turkish side. However, refugees should be protected at any costs. The EU should meet its legal and moral responsibilities towards the Syrian people and refugees of all nationalities.
As we believe in the importance of the role of local and international media agencies, we call them all to be committed to their professional and moral standards and stop mobilizing the public against the refugees by labelling them all as “illegal migrants”. That could cost many refugees their lives.
We emphasize again that everyone should be sensible to the facts and circumstances that forced those people to flee their countries. Our duty is to ease their suffering, not put more salt on their already open wounds. It is unfair that the states that initiate proxy wars in other countries refuse to stand and take responsibility for the damage and suffering of people affected by it. These states have a moral and legal responsibility towards them.
We urge the Syrian people all over the world to organize themselves and raise their voices to send messages of solidarity and to put pressure on politicians and governments in the countries where they live. Let our responsible, peaceful and organized movement in the Diaspora be an instrument to ease the suffering of our people and help achieve justice and hold all the criminals accountable, especially at a time where the international community is either participating or turning a blind eye for the atrocities being done to our people.