Oh People... Stay Put Wherever You Are
Last Sunday, a very prominent Turkish columnist Ahmet Hakan wrote a piece asking -“Why don't Syrians go to Saudi Arabia or other Gulf countries which are Arabs as well, which share their religion and language? Why do they all want to go to Germany, Sweden etc.? Why don't they stay in Turkey who has taken them under its wings and given them protection? Why do they wish to head toward Europe whenever borders are opened?”
He finishes his piece saying “These questions... These questions get me so upset. I wanted you to get upset a bit too.”
I don't know if this is a new trend, as I had read a similar article on mothers hitting their children. The writers are upset and angry at something and they want to infect us with their venemous feelings. I get upset reading these articles. Not upset at what the authors demand me to get upset at, but I get upset at them, at these people who hold the power to influence crowds, and who write bs dressed as “know-it-all”. I get angry at the hollowness and self-righteousness of these seemingly so “rightful” articles.
People do not think much anyway, people do not question much anyway, plus they get the okay from such influential and “trustworthy” journalists, now you listen to the concert of confident crow-parrot chorus in high-pitch.
Can such an experienced journalist, someone who came the fifth on a list of most trustworthy people in a recent poll, be so ignorant? Can he really?
If these questions bother you and you haven't read or watched anything on the topic, search a bit on the Internet. Nobody expects you to go to a war-zone and risk your life, I don't even expect you to go to the camps and see the lives of people before talking. But make a click or two, spend an hour or two before writing such conceited/priggish pieces to be published on a daily national newspaper. Ask Google your questions, comment after reading the answers. Make a proper analysis. Don't say “There is no answer” because there is an answer to everything today online, be it wrong or right. There are the Arab channels, there are the English editions of newspapers. If you don't know English, there are the translators. You are not the only one who has asked these questions. Others have asked them too, and some others have answered. Read those, think, and then comment. Well, you've actually answered it yourself and it's obvious that you want people to reach certain conclusions from the way you ask those questions. But it's shameful. Okay, we don't get up and do something for those people, we don't give up our comfortable lives but at least you don't hit the poor so unjustly.
* First of all, can these people go to those countries? Is it easy to cross the desert? Let's say they managed to get there, is it safe? We know of people who went to Egypt and had to flee from there too. It's not enough to be a Muslim and to speak the same language, people are split up, everybody is an enemy of everybody else. See? There is an article “Why Syrians do not flee to Gulf states” on BBC. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34132308 ) It has asked the same question you did. According to the article, Syrians can go to a Gulf country with a tourist visa or a work permit. But it's expensive and difficult. Someone on a forum was asking “Do you know how hard it is to live in Saudi Arabia as a skilled foriegn worker?” and he answered himself: “It's pretty hard, the government is very overbearing with no path to citizenship whatsoever (and I am talking about people with degrees, not destitute refugees).”
Saudi Arabia currently has taken and houses many Syrians.(https://arabiainterculture.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/why-syrian-refugees-do-not-go-to-saudi-arabia/ ) A prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi says “The Saudi kingdom has been receiving Syrians ever since the Syrian tragedy began. An official I spoke with estimates their number at half million.” I followed the comments of the articles I've been reading on the topic of migration. I went through thousands of comments one by one. Just to see what people thought, how they saw things, to be able to understand them. Some quoted refugee numbers showing the UNHRC (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) as a reference and wrote “0” for Gulf countries. I had thought they were right. Turns out there was an explanation. KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) have not signed the UN refugee agreement in 1951. Therefore, they are under no legal obligation to take in refugees. And they have no obligation to report the number of refugees. This big “0” does not imply they haven't taken in any refugees, it only shows that they do not report to UNHRC. As Khashoggi goes on “These Syrians, however, have not been registered as refugees, as Saudi Arabia is not a country neighboring Syria and these people have not arrived as refugees, but have entered via a visit visa. Saudi Arabia welcomed them over all this time and it did not force them to leave or detain those whose visa expired – however, another country that is supposedly a brotherly country of Syria actually did that. Some Syrians in Saudi Arabia found jobs, others didn’t. The government allowed them to send their children to public schools but this does not mean they are happy.”
Of course there is no guarantee that KSA will not send them away one day. They can do that anytime. As you'd agree, it's very difficult to build a stable life under such conditions. Nobody would like to deal with building a new life over again constantly. Especially if they have children and a family. I got married and divorced twice, I moved several times. Then I settled in Italy. Especially moving to a new country, the paperwork -which was relatively straightforward for me as I married a citizen- is so grueling/exhausting that it tires you out. Who wants to live in a country where they can be kicked out anytime? Until I got my Italian citizenship, I felt the burden of what I'd do if anything happened to my husband. I wanted to have a house in Turkey in such a case. When I got the citizenship, my immaterial inner “need” for that house vanished into thin air. Who wants to live in a country where they can be kicked out anytime? If the people go to Germany and Sweden, they go with the hope of finding a job and resettling. Even if they wish to go back to their countries one day, they'd like to be able to make that decision and the timing themselves. Is that so difficult to understand?
* See? The Australian Parliament has published the results of a research: “Destination anywhere? Factors affecting asylum seekers’ choice of destination country”
( http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1213/13rp01 )
It states that these people don't have a choice most of the time. Even when they do, their choices are limited. They are not wondering “Oh shall I go to the Maldives this year or to the Caribbean?” According to the report, it's mostly the human smugglers that shape their decisions. And “Where asylum seekers are able to exercise choice in determining their destination country, factors such as the presence of social networks, historical ties between the countries of origin and destination, and the knowledge or belief that a certain country is democratic, where human rights and the rule of law are likely to be respected, are highly influential.”
“Asylum seekers make choices within a very limited field of options. Their ability to make decisions about their journey and their destination is constrained by factors such as geography, finances, available travel routes (for example flights, accessible land borders), visa options, and the networks and routes used by people smugglers. It is also important to remember that refugee movements almost always involve an element of chance and this is often more important in influencing the eventual destination country than choice.”
“Further, refugees’ decision-making is a dynamic and flexible process. Decisions are made on the run, and may change according to circumstances encountered during their journey, or information (real or rumoured) heard along the way. Thus, a person may leave their country of origin with an intention of travelling to a particular destination, but change these plans due to encountering obstacles in reaching that country, or seizing opportunities which arise to travel to another country.”
I know and understand that very well as I did my round-the-world tours the same way and construct my life that way. According to coincidences and changing roads when meeting dead-ends.
“It is often assumed by politicians and members of the public that asylum seekers are attracted to certain countries because of favourable policies relating to the asylum process and economic support available to refugees. However, research into asylum seekers’ knowledge of potential destination countries reveals that this is rarely the case.”
“By far the majority of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees remain in their region of origin, their choice of destination limited by geography, a lack of resource, and for some, a hope that their move is temporary and they will one day be able to return home. For those who make their way further afield to claim asylum in an industrialised country, their ultimate destination is often a consequence of chance rather than choice. Research shows that for many, the decision is made for them by an agent, or smuggler.”
* What about the ones who do not wish to stay in Turkey? I don't know if Ahmet Hakan has never read an article or watched an interview on TV? I tell you why they don't stay in Turkey. Because living conditions are tough, because they are exploited because of their position, they are made to work for very cheap (half of a normal worker, or even a quarter), then they cannot even get that money. Even I, being a national, could not get my money from the biggest institutions in Turkey when I worked freelance. I had to resort to legal means so many times. I suffered so much in the meantime. If that was the case for me, how are these poor people to get their pay?
It's the same in Italy. I know of a Romanian guy who came here under a truck. He is one of the most hard-working and good people that I know. He is exploited here too. How are these people goign to cash in their money, their right, the reward of their labor? They might be thinking that things work properly in Sweden and Norway, in Switzerland and England. Maybe they want to try their luck in a new place, in a different place. Is it so difficult to understand? Maybe they want to build themselves, or more importantly their children a future. Is it so difficult to understand?
I guess Ahmet Hakan is upset that people do not want to live like cattle stuck in pens! Do you think life is appealing in the camps? What else do they want, right? They've saved their lives, what else do they want? Right? If you were in their place, if you had children, you'd see that life as “deserving”? Of course man is going to try! He will struggle to construct a better life for himself, and his family. Otherwise, what's the point of living? It's better to die. Of course there are people who give up on life, but man always endeavors for a better life, man is resilient, man is persevering. (Women too ;)
Haven't you heard of the mother who was saying “Take my child, let her go to school. I go back to Syria”? That mother who is willing to separate from her life, her dearest, as long as she knows her child will have a decent life. As a mother myself, I cannot see this as the exaggeration and dramatization of the newspapers. I would do the same under the conditions.
Of course economy is important on the choice of country. Why shouldn't it be? What can be more natural than even “real” refugees to want to construct the best life for themselves? Can there be?
Even though the news try to show it as if every migrant wants to go to Germany and Sweden... Which they do of course, it's not a lie, and it is very natural as those countries want the migrants and open their arms... However, when you look at the numbers, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon still have the largest refugees. If one day, Europe was flooded or if there was a serious natural disaster – could be, who knows the future?- won't Europeans want to go to Africa and Asia or South America?
Somebody made a list. There are ten times as many Swedes in Finland as the refugees in Sweden. There are seven times as many Swedes in Argentina. There are over four million Swedes in the USA making up 1.4% of the population (46 times the population impact of refugees in Sweden.) I did not check these numbers but Please Please Please don't talk and write as if migration is only from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe or from South America to the North. (See the Alex Andreou story at http://www.gulin.world/on-imaginary-lines.html . If you are to ask such questions as why Syrians go somewhere, you should also ask why these Europeans go to other places to live! They should stay put wherever they are! In fact, everybody should stay where they are born and not move!
Let's come to the being upset part...
I guess Ahmet Hakan, like many people who parrot such claims, wishes to imply “Oh they want to go to Germany and Sweden and live for free, they are after welfare money, they want a comfortable/luxurious life.” He must have such an answer to the Why questions he raises. That's why he is upset.
Were people lying idly when the war started that they thought “Oh here is the opportunity, let's go to Europe and lazy around in a better place”? Or are all the economic migrants lazy parasites who want to do nothing and live on three cents? I don't believe this, most people would prefer to work and sweat to earn five cents instead of living on a three-cents hand-out. But let's say it's what Ahmet Hakan and others say. As if Syrians made these laws! They came up with welfare etc. Nobody has to help anybody. There is no such obligation. Who made these countries sign this refugee agreement? Did they sign at gunpoint? They set up the rules and laws, then they don't like it, they want to walk around it when they don't feel like abiding by it. First they tie themselves up, then they agonize. -The conditions they set for the refugees are preposterous as well. Oh if you make it to Europe alive we consider your refugee status, otherwise if you get caught in international waters we sink your boat or send you back. We send you back too if we don't see your status fit.” Instead of squirming, let them take their signatures back! Nobody should have an obligation to help those fleeing war. But Nobody should have the right to block anybody from going anywhere on the world they were born! People should be able to move freely on the world they were born. The contrary is against human nature, it's an insult on human dignity.
Of course this wouldn't be a solution for Ahmet Hakan and the like. I have a different suggestion for them: Let them decide who should go where. This way, Ahmet Hakan would not be upset.
Soon they will be questioning if you have a legal right to exist in this world, asking you for your documents, if you have papers from God giving you the right to be born. I mean they would already have done it if God signed such papers. I'm sure they would have. If they could have applied to God they would have done so.
Actually, all the explanations above are futile. Because Ahmet Hakan asks the wrong questions. The questions I ask are different. When you go to an embassy to get a visa, they ask for your bank account transactions, credit card statements, documents of house-car-land properties.: In order to determine if you are deserving to set foot on their country's holy grounds! ( http://www.gulin.world/on-visas.html ) As if the position of the poor is not bad enough as it is, do they need a discrimination? Is it an acceptable injustice that only the rich, only the people with means are allowed to move around?
What is more “normal”, more natural than a person wanting to move to a place where her/his employment prospects will be higher? Isn't the “pursuit of happiness” one of the pillars of the Declaration of Independence of the U.S.A.? And isn't this a universal basic right? If it is not, why not?
Why can't anyone move freely on the world s/he was born? Why is her/his movement restricted just because of the imaginary line s/he was born in? What kind of a discrimination is this and how has it been ingrained in people's mind, how deep, that so many people believe it so blindly? These are the questions that need to be asked.
Actually, the one and most correct question to ask is this: Why is a person's movement range in the world is determined by the imaginary line s/he was born in to- an imaginary line which was drawn by either a literally bloody war or by metaphorically bloody politics?
This question, oh this question!...
This question upsets me the most.
I don't want you to be upset too. All I want is for you to see this worlwide injustice and accept that it is an injustice. I don't even want you to make an effort to change it. At this point it's enough for me that you see the crookedness and unacceptability of this discrimination.
Once you've seen this, we'll go on to the next step
Note: Just as I can easily answer your questions, if anybody who thinks like Ahmet Hakan can answer my questions as easily and clearly, I'd appreciate if you share it, so that I don't have to be upset anymore.
But don't come up with the economic situation, that we cannot deal with this crowded influx. I want an answer to the above questions. I want answers to whatever I asked.
I am not sure that removing borders, giving people the freedom to move as they wish would be better for the world. I don't have such a claim. However, I have no doubt that the current situation, the visa practice is a HUGE and UNACCEPTABLE INJUSTICE. I have no doubt that spending money on controls to block people from going from one place to another is a huge WASTE and is CRETINISH. The commodity you call money should be spent on HUMANS, on live beings. Should be spent to make LIFE and the WORLD a better place. Not on building walls, fences, creating hardships, making life hell for some.
You may say “There are terrorists,” “We fear our lives.”
And I will tell you... “If you spend the money on the right places, your such problems will vanish by themselves.”