Since the outbreak of the bloody unrest in Syria in March 2011, Ankara has been a staunch supporter of foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists operating to topple the Damascus government. Incensed by Turkey’s all-out support for terrorists who commit atrocities against Syrian people, in Antakya, a Turkish town near Syrian’s north-western borders, people have thronged to the streets and called on Ankara to stop meddling in Syria’s internal affairs. The demonstrators also press for tightening the borders and blocking the entry of the Al-Qaeda terrorists from different Arab and Middle East countries to Syria. This is while to stop the spread of demonstrations throughout the city, such peaceful protests are heavily suppressed by the Turkish riot police.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: In the face of domestic conspiracies cooked up by foreign insurgents, the Syrian people have repeatedly expressed their support for the government and the Syrian army by taking to the streets across the country. But this time, this demonstration seems a bit different than the previous ones. Where is this place? Damascus? Aleppo? Latakia?Or …But it seems none of the above is correct. This is a town near Syria's north-western borders. A town called Antakya. For months now, similar demonstrations have been held in different parts of this town. The extent of the demonstrations has forced the riot police to come to the main streets and squares of the town in order to stop the increasing spread of demonstrators throughout the city. But what are the demonstrators protesting against?
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Old man: “We don’t know where they’ve come from and what their religion is. If they are Christian, the Christians refuse to accept them. If they are Armenian, the Armenians do not accept them either. They are damaging the whole concept of Islam with their actions.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Young man, Resident of Turkey: “We’ve only come here for peace. We want peace and friendship between the two nations. We don’t want terrorists and Al-Qaeda here. We don’t want them among us. I’ve seen it with my own eyes that Al-Qaeda agents and spies act freely among people. That’s not what we want, friends. We enjoy security and stability here. We live like brothers together. We have no problems. But we don’t want foreign terrorists and Al-Qaeda terrorists among us.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man in green shirt, Protester: “What is now seen in Syria is a game and a coup enacted by imperialism. Let me say it first that not only are there opposition groups in Syria, but they also have goals and plans, which are quite clear. But what do these people want? Does anyone know? Do they want democracy? What do they want? It’s not clear. And they don’t know what they want either. That’s why they’re not considered the opposition. They are insurgents. They kill people in Syria. Many things about dissenters and insurgents were said in the media. They behead people. They are not the opposition groups. That’s not the stance of an opposition group. Only dissenters and insurgents are capable of doing such things. Here in the Middle East, the Alawis, Sunnis, Christians, Armenians, Turks, Kurds, all religions and ethnic groups support Syria. We need to stand to the very end. The U.S. is unconsciously destroying the oldest civilization in the Middle East. That is why we need to keep it safe.”
TIME CODE: 05:08_10:00
Narration: What’s the real truth? The proximity of Turkey's southern borders with Syria, which extends for more than 20 kilometers, may have placed Turkey in a position to play an important role in Syria’s domestic unrests and civil war. Evidence shows that several months before the start of unrests in Syria, that is, before March 2011, Turkey had started establishing camps for the so-called Syrian refugees in some of its border towns; at a time when there were still no refugees to speak of. Meanwhile, Antakya has a special position; a town in the southwest of Turkey; a town which the Turks call Hatay; a town which has been the focus of national and international media; a town which constantly comes up in regional and international media along with all the incidents happening in Syria. Months after the start of domestic unrests in Syria, the real truth about these camps has come to the surface. Incidents for which news channels have chosen titles such as ‘A place of deployment and transition of the Al-Qaeda terrorists from different Arab and Middle East countries like Libya, Yemen, Chechnya, Afghanistan, etc.'
None of the independent domestic and foreign groups in Turkey has been allowed to inspect these camps, and the Turkish government has refused to answer the many questions and ambiguities raised by the Turkish media and Parliament members. If these camps are not Turkey’s military bases for training terrorists by Israeli and American experts, why have the representatives of people and the media never been allowed to visit them? Despite the silence of the Turkish media, the inhabitants of the nearby towns have a lot to say about these camps.
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Old Man, Resident of Turkey: “The government is following a policy that fans the flames of war. It brings in groups from Syria and gives them accommodation, provides them with weapons, and helps them get inside Syria. And these armed groups kill the Syrian people, and Turkey gives them accommodation and supplies. People of Hatay are worried about this, and we all have a feeling of insecurity.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Old Man, Resident of Turkey: “We read and watch the news in newspapers and on TV. Hatay is the closest border town to Syria. I went to a border point, and saw the damages with my own eyes. No country put its custom border at the disposal of dissenters, but that’s what Turkey has turned a blind eye to, putting its borders at the disposal of the Syrian opposition. I saw with my own eyes that the customs were closed, and there were no cars or trucks passing by. They were at the disposal of terrorists. The terrorists have complete control over them, and people can only walk through it. The police and local people have no jobs, and there’s nothing they can do. The customs at this border is closed down. But the entire world knows that terrorists can freely cross this border. All the international media have stated this fact and we’ve seen it with our own eyes.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_16:00
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Woman, Resident of Turkey: “The refugees stationed there are not opposed to Bashar Al-Assad. They are terrorists and heroin addicts. They are criminals, and that’s why they’ve come to Turkey. We don’t want them in our country. We don’t want them in Hatay. Throw them out. Al-Qaeda armed groups have attacked us. We’ve witnessed that for ourselves. They called us atheists, saying that they would soon have complete control over our properties and live in our houses. They emphasized that it will happen very soon.”
Narration: Such talks have made the residents of Antakya take exception to the existence of these camps, and the presence of foreign forces deployed there. By holding demonstrations, they try to make their government hear their voices raised in protest.
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man, Resident of Turkey: “The people of Hatay are dissatisfied with this situation. You could always feel a sense of brotherhood in Hatay, but those people have spoiled it. People of all ethnicities and religions live in this town. They used to live together like brothers and friends without having any problems. But with their arrival, they have created many anxieties and worries.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man, Resident of Turkey: “Many of them are armed. They are not real refugees. Our people don’t want them here. We’re upset because it is very important for our country. It threatens our country and diminishes Turkey’s importance and value. It will portray Turkey as a supporter of terrorists.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man sitting down, Resident of Turkey: “You can see them around the markets, looking at you with threatening eyes. I’ve even heard them threatening some of the store owners. We want them to leave. We will stand by our demand to the very end. We want peace in Syria. The Syrians are our brothers.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man, Resident of Turkey: “This is Europe’s doing. European countries want to dominate the Middle East. The Sunnis, Turks, Kurds, Alawis, Jews, Armenians etc. are all equal in the region and everyone knows that we’re brothers. Turkey shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this issue. They should shut down the refugee camps. They are famous all over the world as the Salafi, Wahhabi, and Al-Qaeda terrorists. They wander freely around here. They freely wander around as normal citizens. The Government should not turn a blind eye to this matter, because it will have to bear severe consequences.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Young Man, Resident of Turkey: “Those who keep silent in the face of daily bombings in Palestine are those who are currently opposing Bashar al-Assad. And I can't understand them. Israel bombs Palestine. Egypt closed its borders on Palestinians. Palestinians did not have any medicines. They did not have any food. Where were Arab countries then? Where was Tayyip Erdogan? They didn’t do anything and made do with just a one-minute statement. But nothing happened. Now they are trying to pull down Bashar Al-Assad who supports Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, and the Palestinians.”
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Man, Resident of Turkey: “Let me put it in a nutshell. Hezbollah has dealt the heaviest blows to Zionism. That’s not a lie, right? Who is the biggest supporter of Hezbollah? Syria.”
Narration: During these demonstrations, it wasn’t only people who took to the streets. Some Member of Parliament and political figures from different parties also joined the people and expressed their opinions.
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Official Person: “I’m a representative of the people. Here, the people are in front of us and the media are behind us. We only want to send out a message of peace. Hatay, Adana and Mersin want peace. The camps need to be shut down. My brothers, we announce to the Turkish government that these camps are not approved by the UN, and no license has been given by Parliament for establishing them. Foreign forces cannot stay in Turkey without Parliament’s permission. The militia cannot be present here. Turkey is a law-abiding country and foreign forces cannot stay on Turkish soil without Parliament’s permission. Parliament had never been so neglected in the history of our republic before. Law-making organizations had never been ignored like this before. We have all gathered here to prevent any bloodshed or war and to sing the song of peace and friendship together. If war breaks out here only the imperialists will benefit from it.”
TIME CODE: 16:00_20:00
Narration: This is what Ali Ural, the head of the Ahl Al-Bayt Community which is connected to Alawite groups in Antakya had to say about the situation in which the Turkish government has put itself.
SOUNDBITE [Turkish], Ali Ural, The head of the Ahl Al-Bayt Community: “The Prime Minister pointed out that what happened in Karbala is being played out again in Syria. That is really heartbreaking. But who is revoking the same cruel act? Is it Bashar Al-Assad? Are the Alawites doing it or is the government acting against its own citizens? I answered him. I said I hope that whoever is doing it will meet up with Yazid in the afterlife. Are the suppressed and the suppresser the same? Are Yazid and Imam Hussein (AS) the same? Can anyone do such a thing? It's a big mistake. Turkey should quickly stop supporting international terrorists. It should quickly put its borders with Syria and the areas adjacent to Hatay under control. They shouldn't allow terrorists to come and go as they please. Removing terrorists from this town, as soon as tomorrow, is essential for Hatay's peace and security. If Turkey withdraws its weapon and logistic support from the terrorists today, Syria will find peace and stability. Hundreds of people die there on a daily basis. Isn't that upsetting? Isn't that a shame? Aren't you responsible for the blood shed over there? Don't you have a hand in it? Is there a difference between someone who kills an innocent person and someone who gives a knife to the killer? One of them kills directly and the other one supports him. There's a proverb that goes: ‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones'. The whole structure of our house is made of glass. The Kurds are a big issue in Turkey. The Alawites are a big issue. Muslims and ethnic groups are important issues. Have we solved these issues and provided peace and stability, and that's why we're addressing Syria's issues right now?!”
Narration: The demonstrations sometimes last till nightfall. The number of demonstrators increases every day. If the government does not come up with a suitable solution soon, it may be too late tomorrow.