Turkish forces are reportedly forcing refugees fleeing the chaos of the Middle East to turn back from the border with Bulgaria. According to reports, as many as 600 refugees, including women and children, are being forced to return to their camps in Turkey now.
One refugee told media that the Yazidis left their camp because conditions are unbearable.
“All that matters now is to move on, we don’t even care where we go,” one female refugee said. “We are dying daily, and I can’t stand it anymore.”
Turkish officials say that they have to enforce the law and prevent the refugees from moving into Europe, but the refugees seem very unwilling to return to their camps. 250 Yazidi refugees, including some elderly migrants, attempted to cross the border into Bulgaria elsewhere, but they were also caught. When authorities attempted to marshal them onto buses, apparently many sat down on the ground in protest. It took the border patrol agents five hours to load the buses after the protest.
“Where are the European countries? Where is humanity? We left Iraq to Turkey eager to find justice. But there is no justice here, they discriminate against us,” Hussein Ali Khan, another refugee, said.
A number of refugees have reported being made to sleep on the streets by a bus center in Istanbul.
Representatives for human rights groups focused on helping the Yazidi people said that they feel “traumatized.” They do not want to illegally enter Europe, but the conditions at refugee camps in Turkey are so terrible, so they feel like they must turn to illegal immigration to escape.
Earlier this year, the United Nations said that ISIS’s attacks on Yazidi communities could be characterized as “genocide.”
ISIS has been raping and enslaving young Yazidi girls, massacring Yazidi men, and generally pursuing a policy of extermination. Survivors often tell grim stories filled with violence and a sense of hopelessness.
The Yazidis are a religious minority in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Their faith is historically linked to Zoroastrianism, a dualistic religion that shares some elements of Christianity and Islam. The Yazidi faith in particular combines these religious traditions to form a syncretic faith with elements of all three. Certain radical Islamist groups, including ISIS, accuse them of “devil-worship.”