Illegal migrants tell horrors of life at hands of smugglers

Turkey, a long-time transit country for human smuggling networks, has become a “target” country over the past few years, due to steady economic growth and a grim job market in Western Europe

Illegal migrants tell horrors of life at hands of smugglers

Illegal migrants from far-off countries who were rescued after enduring maltreatment and violence at the hands of human smugglers have been telling Turkish police of the abuse they have had to endure, often right in the heart of the city of İstanbul. N.B. was rescued and hospitalized by security forces from a roadside where he was thrown out of a car after being severely beaten. In his initial testimony, he said that he and his fellow migrants traveled to İzmir on a boat from Burma, arriving two days before he was abandoned at a roadside. From İzmir, the group was brought to İstanbul, where they were confined by the gang smuggling them across borders into a gecekondu (shack) in Sultangazi. The smugglers asked for more money than initially agreed on, and ordered their “prisoners” to contact their families in Burma and ask for money. N.B. objected, and the smugglers knocked over a sizeable cabinet on him, crushing his foot under it and fracturing it. He was later assaulted and abandoned at a roadside.

Turkey, a long-time transit country for human smuggling networks, has become a “target” country over the past few years, due to steady economic growth and a grim job market in Western Europe, where migrants are traditionally headed. N.B.'s story, unfortunately, is not unique. The smugglers are often unkind to, if not downright abusive of, their customers. In 2011, seven migrants died in a gecekondu in İstanbul's Sultangazi district in which they were locked up. The investigation that followed resulted in many arrests and established that the migrants were often beaten by the smugglers. The investigation also found out that a Pakistani man who was starved out and later thrown off a building when he asked for food and then left in a ditch was also a victim of the same gang. The migrant survived, with injuries to his foot and broken ribs.

Another victim rescued by a police operation in İstanbul, K.T., told Today's Zaman that he first traveled to Iran after leaving his country of origin, and stayed there for three months. He claimed he was captured by Iranian security officials and was deported through the Turkish border with no documents. He said he started living illegally in Turkey, together with others in his situation. He also claimed to have been taken hostage by a gang of human smugglers, along with two friends, whom he identified as Ş.M. and D.T. The smugglers stole the migrants' cash, and violently beat him, because he didn't have any money. He said the other migrants weren't free of beatings, but alleged he suffered the harshest abuse because he didn't have any financial resources. He also claimed that the smugglers pressed hot iron on his skin, gave him electric shocks and hit him in the head with iron bars. He said the migrants were told to contact their families to get a ransom for their release.

Pakistani farmer N.Ç. is yet another victim of these networks who was saved by Turkish police. He decided to get to Europe, and paid an international human smuggler to take him to Greece. He and others who were with them were made to walk for hours across the Iranian border into Turkey. He, just like many others, claims he has been locked up and threatened to pay more money.  

Cihan

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Ağustos 2013, 09:57
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