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Turkey: Syrian Refugees Targeted after Reyhanlı Blasts

On May 11th, Reyhanlı [en] small Turkish town on Turkey-Syria border, was under terrorist attacks. This was the biggest terrorist attack [en] in country's 90 year-old republican history. After the explosions nine people were detained [en] by the security forces. Officials said [en], two vehicles were used in the bombings and more than 50 people were killed and at least 100 people were injured. But on social media, there were rumors that the real number of the victims is more than 100.

Twitter user shiny (@Idauk) tweets [Tr]:

@Idauk Simdi Antakya'dan arkadasimla konustum.Olu sayisi 100'un uzerinde diyor.Reyhanli'da fiili sokaga cikma yasagi varmis.Hastahaneler perisan.

I just talked with a friend from Antakya. As my friend said, the number of the people were killed is over 100. Also, there is a curfew. Hospitals are all miserable.

Just after the explosions, the Turkish government issued a media ban [en] on the Reyhanlı blasts. This ban received a big reaction on social media. Twitter user denizatam (@denizatam) writes:

@denizatam AKP çareyi buldu, Reyhanlı için yayın yasağı başladı! Ana akım medya yetmedi yerel basını sustur şimdi. …

AKP (Justice and Development Party) found the solution. A media ban was initiated for the Reyhanli Blasts! Mainstream was not enough, now it is the time to silence local media.

Journalists protested [en] the media ban. On Türkmax, the media ban was protested in a more sarcastic way, on their comedy show “Heberler”. In the video, the anchorman is opening the program with Reyhanlı blasts. Due to media ban, he remains speechless. Here is the video [tr]:

A picture at on the blast media ban

A picture at on the blast media ban

A Turkish viral graphics and design website,, published a picture about media ban. User brewolve prepared a graphic about the Turkish media's reaction on Reyhanlı blasts, since the media was just following their normal program line and not mentioning Reyhanlı blasts. Graphic can be seen here.

Although the media ban was lifted by Turkish courts, on May 16, a video on YouTube claims that the ban has fulfilled its purpose. In the video [tr], a journalist interviews several people on the street asking them “what do you think about Reyhanlı?”. The answers are shocking; only one person recognized the blasts, and a few remembered where the town was, and rest had no idea where it was or what happened in Reyhanlı, even though the video was recorded only five days after the blasts. Here is the video:

There are also reports [tr] on racist attacks on Syrian refugees. Since the Syrian civil war, Syrian refugees and militants fled to Antakya [en], a Turkish city on Syrian-Turkey border, and Reyhanlı, a town of the same city. Since the refugees and militants moved [en] into Antakya, the tension between the locals and Syrians has been high. In the report it says:

“Suriyelilerin yaşadığı binalara topluca gidilmiş birçok ev yakılmaya çalışılmış, ele geçirilen kişiler darp edilmişlerdir. Aşırı milliyetçi/ulusalcı eğilimlere sahip partilere mensup fanatiklerinden olduğu söylenen ve her geçen gün sayıları artmakta olan bu gurup, yaşanan gelişmelerden Suriyelileri sorumlu tutmakta, Reyhanlı ilçe merkezinde devriye gezerek sıklıkla yol kesmekte, Suriyeli veya Suriye vatandaşı olduğunu zannettikleri kişileri linç etmeye çalışmaktadırlar”

A group of people went to the buildings that Syrians are living in, they beat the people they caught. As said, these people are the members of ultra nationalist parties and they increasing in numbers, they blame Syrians for the blasts, and they patrol the Reyhanli city center, where they are attacking Syrians or people who look like Syrian citizens.

Turks on social media gave mixed reactions on the attacks on Syrians in Reyhanli.

Twitter user T.C. Zehra Aydogan (@TurkKizi1919) is angry at Syrians in Antakya:

 @TurkKizi1919 Turkiye'ye yerlestirilmeye calistiklari Suriyeli Multeci dedikleri terorsitlerdir.

The so called Syrian refugees that they want to settle in Turkey are, actually terrorists.

Another user, T.C.Devrim #ATATÜRK (@saadet_karakus), is angry at government for helping the refugees instead of the locals:

@saadet_karakus Suriyeli multeci icin milyar dolar harcayanlar,Reyhanlı esnafının vergi, sigorta borçlarını 1 yıl erteliyor.Silsene o borcu buyuk devlet!

The ones, who spend billions of dollars for Syrian refugees, are delaying Reyhanli store owners’ debts for one year. Write off those debts, you big government!

Twitter user Sami Pelitli (@SamiPelitli) says:

@SamiPelitli Reyhanli'da patlayan bomba yuzunden multecileri suclamak, onlara saldirmak nasil bir vicdansizliktir? Bir de irkci degiliz dersiniz.

What kind of remorselessness it is, to blame refugees for the blasts in Reyhanli, and to attack them? And you also say we are not racist.

Journalist Hayko Bağdat (@haykobagdat) tweets:

@haykobagdat ÖSO, cemaat, AKP'li filanlı olmaktan değil, tehcirin ne olduğunu bildiğimden Suriyeli mültecilere toz kondurmuyorum ben.

I am defending Syrian refugees, because I know the meaning of emigration, not because I am fan of FSA (Free Syrian Army), AKP (Justice and development Party), or congregation.

After the death of tens of people and a border town with tens of buildings collapsed [en], life still continues in Reyhanlı. Twitter user Bünyamin Salmanyan (@bunyms) remembers Mustafa Ayaz [tr], who was killed by the blasts in Reyhanlı:

@bunyms Reyhanlı'daki saldırıda hayatını kaybeden 25 yaşındaki Mustafa Ayaz'ın eşi bugün doğum yapmış, adını Mustafa koymuşlar..

Mustafa Ayaz, 25, was killed by the blasts; his wife gave a birth to his son today, and they named him Mustafa…

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