Syria's Circassians Flee to Turkey en Masse

Albeit not taking any sides, roughly 130,000 Circassians suffer from the severe consequences of war in Syria. Their compatriots organize sit-in protests all around the world to bring awareness.

Sagus Metin Alhas, a Circassian living in Reyhanli, Hatay Province, performed  a “one-man demonstration” on November 17 with banners saying “Speak up and stop Circassian killings” to bring awareness to the human crisis in Syria.

“Circassians are being killed Syria even though they are not taking any sides in the civil war. I want people to speak up for this,” Alhas reminded that hundreds of Circassians are carrying out similar demonstrations all around the world.

24 Circassian families in Reyhanli District

Alhas told Bianet that he carried out the protest under the umbrella of “Patriot Circassians Entity”, a platform founded to bring the problems of Circassians in Russia and Turkey to the surface.

“In Reyhanli, we are hosting 24 families who fled from Syria under the umbrella of the Caucasian Associations Federation. We are trying to take care of 95 individuals with our limited budget. When we run out of money, our federation takes care of it,” Alhas said.

Crisis committee in Reyhanli

Alhas said they also formed a crisis committee aimed to help Circassians flee from Syria. “Turkey’s Circassians are generally indifferent to what is going on in Syria. Circassians in Reyhanli are in the middle of the problem,” Alhas complained.

“There are currently no spots available in Reyhanli. We were able to find spots for 7 newcomers in the Kayseri province. We sent 2 people to the Maras province recently. But our resources are limited. We are also sending other refugees to Russia,” Alhas said.

Application quota due in Russia

There are roughly 130,000 Circassians living in Syria. Uğur Pihava, association leader in Reyhanli, complained about Russia’s quota policy on Circassians: “They are only accepting 5,000 applicants each year and spots are already taken in 2012 due to the war.”

Migration of Syria’s Circassians quickened after assaults on Circassian villages in Golan Heights on November 8. Hundreds of villagers were reported to have fled from their villages and headed to secure zones.

23 Nov. 2012, by Haluk KALAFAT

Courtesy of Bianet

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