Syria’s Circassians Flee to Turkey en Masse / Putin doesn’t want them

BIANET 25.11.2012 – 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 on November 17 a “one-man demonstration” with banners saying “Speak up and stop Circassian killings” to bring awareness to the human crisis in Syria. “Circassian are being killed Syria even though they are not taking any side in the civil war. I want people to speak up for this,” Alhas said the protest reminding that hundreds of Circassians are doing similar demonstrations all around the world.

24 Circassian families in Reyhanli District

Alhas told bianet that he realized the protest under the umbrella of “Patriot Circassians Entity”, a platform founded to bring into surface the problems of Circassians in Russia and Turkey. “In Reyhanli, we are hosting 24 families who fled from Syria under the umbrella of Caucasian Associations Federation. We are trying to take care of 95 individuals all by 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 Circassian are generally indifferent to what is going on in Syria. Circassians in Reyhanli are in the middle of the problem,” Alhas continued with a complaint. “There are currently no spots available in Reyhanli. We were able to find spot for 7 newcomers in Kayseri province. We sent 2 people to Maras province lately. 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 war.” Migration of Syria’s Circassians fastened after assaults on Circassian villages in Golan Heights on November 8. Hundred of villager were reported to have fled their villages and headed to secure zones. (HK)