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We are goods

A media report from south-east Turkey. Which effects after the EU-Turkey agreement?

6 March 2017

- The crowdfunding on Produzioni dal Basso for the new project of Overthefortress Campaign, managed by Melting Pot Europe in partnership with Borders of Borders.
In addition to the donations you can make on the “Produzioni dal Basso” website, we are available for any conference, exhibition and show that can be an opportunity for meetings, mutual growth and support for the “WE ARE GOODS” project.
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A documentary, a legal inquiry, a photographic exhibition chronicling the life of Syrian refugees blocked in Turkey after the European Union agreement.

November 1st, 2016.

The story that was taking shape day after day, mile after mile, face after face, was one where no one is guilty because beyond wars, religions, revolutions and ideologies, beyond and before all of this:

WE ARE GOODS

A COLLECTIVE ACTION THAT STARTS FROM AFAR

#Overthefortress is a political and social campaign, a collective monitoring and investigative action inside and beyond Fortress Europe. Starting as a handover few weeks before the construction of a wall on the Serbia-Hungary border in August 2015, the campaign is still active to this day on the main migratory routes and on European borders, both internal and external.
Since that first trip, we – an impressive number of men and women, from all over Italy – followed the Balkan Route; from Vienna to the Greek islands passing through Idomeni, we saw and directly reported the truth, we shook the hands of thousands of women, men, children and elders along the route, looking them in their eyes.
We mixed with them and listened to the many reasons that lead them to this desperate journey; we understood their needs and desires, we implemented specific support actions in the Idomeni camp before its dismantling. We have been on the closed borders of Fortress Europe – places like Calais and the Brenner – and then returned to the Thessaloniki camps only to leave for an investigative journey through southern Italy, following the Central Mediterranean Route. Traveling for more than 2,100 mi – and in 40 different stages –, we witnessed many acts of activism and solidarity and visited inhuman “reception” centres made of shacks where migrants are super-exploited, but we also stumbled upon an abundance of solidarity and good reception initiatives born from the cooperation between Italians and “migrants”.

After this long and rich journey, we decided to travel further away, where the agreements that we subscribe to as Europeans – but do not know their inhuman and unacceptable consequences – come from.

REPORT FROM SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY ON THE EFFECTS OF THE UE AGREEMENT ON SYRIAN REFUGEES AND THE CLOSURE OF BORDERS

1 – On March 18th, 2016, the EU has signed an agreement with Turkey in order to stem the huge flow of refugees from the Middle East.
2 - A clause in the agreement commits the Ankara government to prevent the access of migrants to Fortress Europe using “any means necessary”.
3 - To this day, along the colossal wall that Turkey is building to protect its border, Turkish soldiers have slaughtered hundreds of Syrian civilians.
4 - Nowadays, Turkey is the country with the largest number of migrants in the world – about 3.1 million people.
According to the latest data published by UNHCR, Syrian refugees are more than 2,800,000.
There are 26 official AFAD camps, whose access is only granted to Turkish officials and UNHCR.
Access is prohibited for every other NGO.
5 - Only 10% of Syrian refugees – 250,000 people – have access to government camps. The rest remains out and as a result, the access to basic personal services is severely restricted.
6 - More than half of Syrian refugees are children.
Approximately 80% of them does not go to school, even though they have reached school age. In fact, most of them are forced to look for a job to support their families.
These jobs take place in unhealthy environments, where these underpaid children work for at least 40 hours per week.

Because of historical and geographic reasons, Turkey is in the centre of a network of routes used by refugees. For many of them Turkish territory becomes an illegal route towards Greece and therefore to Europe, but due to the difficulties in legally reaching the old continent, many are still stuck in buffer zones between Europe and Syria.
This has also been established in the EU-Turkey agreement, signed in 2016, whose aim is to stem the tide of all refugees – Syrians included – towards the member states.
On the other hand, Turkey has received big promises concerning the simplification of visa regimes and financial support for about 6 billion euros.
Among the different measures taken, the Turkish government has started construction of a wall on the border with Syria.
In Greek and Turkish camps, the level of social and legal protection for refugees is very low: with no knowledge of the language and without inclusive projects, they become physically and psychologically vulnerable and as a result financial, legal and social integration in the country proves very difficult.


DOCUMENTARY

Gaziantep, Kilkis, Antakya: while traveling the road you can spot the border wall in the distance. At times, you can also see enormous cranes lifting the concrete blocks that make up the wall.
This is only one of the most visible consequences of the EU-Turkey agreement.
Another consequence is embodied by the dozens of children crowding the roads of the textile quarter in the outskirts of Antep on their lunch break. They too are victims of this agreement.
“WE ARE GOODS” is a road movie produced by Melting Pot Europa, in collaboration with Borders of Borders: a project of the #overthefortress campaign.

Through the accounts of some Syrian refugees stuck for years in Turkish territory near the Syrian border, we will investigate the consequences of the EU-Turkey agreements: jobs, education, housing, rights, duties, inequalities, hopes, delusions.
Through their experiences we will tell about how a 7-year-old boy finds himself having to support his family, or how the bombs in Aleppo echo on beneath Gaziantep’s balconies, or how people can walk 12 miles in 20 days just to leave war behind.

Title: We Are Goods
Genre: Report
Location: Turkey
Country of production: Italy
Year of production: 2016/2017
Production: Melting Pot
Language: Turkish, Italian, English, Arabic, Kurd.


After the video, there will be a legal investigation supported by documentary evidence, that will be published in segments on the “Melting Pot Europa” website.

Introspective report and reasoned analysis on the consequences suffered by the Syrian people following the international agreement between EU and Turkey: child labor, government camps, reception inadequacies and shortcomings.

by Andrea Panico

Here is an extract from the chapter “Childhood denied”.

Nowadays, Turkey possesses a system of laws that allows the state economy to be largely based on undeclared work.
The combination of stale social and economic policies – completely unsuitable for stemming the tide of migration – and the absolute poverty of migrant families has been feeding the country’s child labor racket for years.
If we pour a wave of workforce so unqualified and desperate for a job in a market such as this – in which child labor has always been accepted and justified – the consequences are easily predictable: hundreds of thousands of minors – who are denied access to educational services – are victim of the most tiring and humiliating laboring. They are mostly forced to work in textile factories, agriculture, begging or, even worse, are trapped in the web of sexual exploitation.
According to estimates by Support to Life in the provinces of Hatay and Sanlurfa – which, according to the data gathered by this study group in October-November of 2016, can be extended to the provinces of Gaziantep and Adana – the percentage of Syrian children who are forced into undeclared work ranges between 70 and 80%, the 90% of which works for at least 8 hours per week.
It’s easier for minors to find a place in the world of undeclared work: “they cause fewer problems, they don’t raise their heads. They are the perfect slaves, blindly following their master’s orders” they tell us in Gaziantep, “they must sacrifice their right to an education in order to allow their families to survive.”
The government knows this is going on and accepts it. It is a fact.


RESILIENCE

“Resilience” is an installation of photos, videos and sounds among travel notes and cut-outs.
They are fragments from a trip to southeastern Turkey, with the Syrian war looming in the background.
A trip along the lines drawn by refugee camps, in direct contact with the exploitation of the Syrian workforce in factories and worksites of Gaziantep’s rusty outskirts.

All people who face extreme, unexpected or unintended situations are often labeled as “victims” and suffer heavy discrimination due to their condition. Surprisingly enough, those who recovered from devastating experiences develop a particular strength, resilience: they have survived and now they smile, in spite of everything, like a happy castaway.

They represent a cross-section of a time of change and conflict, in search of a humanity through the ashes of burning cities.

Our aim is to open a window on a part of the world and to create meetings and stimulate reflection on the issues covered, by putting visitors in front of a wall hosting a collection of photos, videos and thoughts written on fragments of paper.

Credits

The photographic material and video footage has been produced by Melting Pot, in collaboration with Borders of Borders.


OUR REQUESTS

The southeastern Turkey expedition was made possible thanks to the effort made by Melting Pot Europa and everyone involved in the conception, organization and management of this project: journalists, photographers, translators, operators, activists…
We are at the very end of this journey: we have interviews to edit and translate, photos to postproduct and print, contacts to maintain, projects to support, walls to monitor. All this work needs to be done in a continuously changing space, where transversal and unaligned perspectives are almost imperative if we want to have a clear opinion about facts of difficult interpretation.

With your help, you can give space and a voice to an unaligned opinion, to play a leading role in the offering of an alternative.

In addition to the donations you can make on the “Produzioni dal Basso” website, we are available for any conference, exhibition and show that can be an opportunity for meetings, mutual growth and support for the “WE ARE GOODS” project.

Contact us at our contact addresses.
Thank you.

Spread the word and share our channels, our photos, our words: each and every one of us is #Overthefortress!

overthefortress@meltingpot.org
lamercesiamonoi@meltingpot.org
bordersofborders@gmail.com

#overthefortress #lamercesiamonoi #bordersofborders

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