Syrian Kurds mark another bayram away from home

Published 24.06.2017 22:00
Updated 24.06.2017 22:01
Violence by the PKK-linked PYD is preventing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds from returning home.
Violence by the PKK-linked PYD is preventing tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds from returning home.

Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds staying at the refugee camp located in Şanlıurfa's Suruç region prepare to mark another Ramadan holiday, or as it is known in the Arabic world, Eid el-Fitr, away from their homes due to continued persecution under the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militia People's Protection Units (YPG).

Close to 30,000 Kurds living in northern Syria, in and around the town of Ayn al Arab (Kobani) fled to Turkey in 2014 due to clashes between the PYD and Daesh. Despite the end of clashes in the region, they continue to fear returning due to coercive tactics used by YPG terrorists to silence critics.

During the clashes, the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) built the country's largest tent city to accommodate around 27,000 people, mostly women and children fleeing Kobani.

As they prepare for the coming bayram, the families are cleaning up their tents and shopping with their allocated aid cards.

Abdullah Huseyn said he fled to Turkey as Daesh was attacking Kobani. "Turkey, praise be God, helped us all this time. However, we want to return to our homes." Still, he said the PYD occupation and its continued pressure on civilians force them to live in the tent city.

"At a time when we started to think what would become of us, Turkey opened its doors. The way we are treated couldn't be better. We are doing our bayram shopping, bought our children new clothes. When we first arrived, Eid al-Adha [religious holiday when animals are sacrificed. Kurban Bayram in Turkish] was approaching. We thought we would be returning soon after the bayram. Despite Daesh withdrawal, we still can't return to our homes. How can we go there when there is so much violence. We are happy here. It's like home, and despite the cultural affinity we feel, there is nowhere like home. We can't thank President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish people enough. They take care of all of our needs."

Suruç's local administrator Fethat Sinanoğlu prepared a special Ramadan Bayram greeting card in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic for the refugees, as well as sending gift packages.

Dilber Abraham, another tent city tenant, said Syrian Kurds formed the majority of the tent city dwellers, but there were also Arabs and Turkmens living peaceably near them. Abraham said she was trained to become an English teacher but never had the opportunity to practice her profession. "Once the clashes in Kobani intensified, we had to seek shelter here. I work as a student consultant. Right now, we are preparing for bayram, cleaning our homes, buying new clothes for our children. We can't complain, but still pray every day to God to allow us to go back home."

The tent city's deputy manager, Ahmet Demir, speaking while distributing Sinanoğlu's cards and gift packages, said they were doing their best to make "our Syrian guests" feel at home. "We are doing everything needed so that they can practice their religious observations. They have their AFAD cards for shopping," he said.

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