I have always wanted to write about all the funny, frustrating, annoying, amusing, and weird things that had happened to me in Turkey, but many things are happening now and I need to write about them, so I will just sum up all the past 22 months by saying, “it was OKAY”, but on many occasions it was just shit!.
Turkish bureaucracy is something else! The amount of uncertainty that surrounds all decisions is frustrating. For many months, I didn’t know what the regulations for my stay here were because they keep changing them. One day you’re allowed to stay in Turkey, the next you might have to leave!
Another thing that made everything uncertain is the amount of special rules for Syrians. For instance, I am allowed to travel between Syria and Turkey as much as I want, but once I try to leave to a different country, I have to have obtained a residency book here, otherwise, I won’t be allowed into Turkey for a year. When would I know that? Just when I’m about to stamp my passport at an airport or a border point that doesn’t lead to Syria! Lovely, isn’t it?
On the other hand, as a Syrian, I have a special treatment; I can obtain residency permits here easily, I can work even if the residency book says I am not allowed to, and I can stay here as much as I want. I am a guest of Turkey; this is what I am told, but wait! What if I want to apply for asylum via UNHCR, am I allowed to do that?
According to the Turkish authorities here, I am not allowed to do that. I have to be a guest here whether I like it or not. Otherwise, the Turkish authorities and government will be so offended that they will turn my life into living hell. They can, can’t they?
In fact, I am enjoying being a guest here, even though I feel offended by the xenophobia and the anti-Syrian sentiment in some places. But what if another gay Syrian wants to leave to a western country because of the homophobia in his country and the generous “hosting” country, what can he do?
Nothing can be done for gay Syrian refugees in Turkey. The good people of Kaos GL are trying to help on a case-by-case basis. They have an amazing lawyer who is trying to help with the UNHCR applications and dealing with all the bureaucracy on behalf of the poor Syrians who cannot be certain of anything here. After all, this is the land of uncertainty.
OKAY, OKAY! Let’s just assume that all gay Syrians are enjoying Turkey despite the homophobia, but what about guests like me, i.e. those who are doing some dangerous work here? Are those protected from the other “bad guests”? AND, I don’t mean it like John Kerry said it. To me, some of “his” good guys are as bad as the 15% bad guys.
To answer that question, we have to go back to the Turkish traditions which are similar to the Arabic ones. Nothing can be done! No one is protected! There’s no such thing as “bad guests”! We have to respect all of our guests who only try to harm other guests whether were those guests Syrians or of any other nationality. As long as they don’t get into troubles with the good Turkish people, all guests are equal! Yet, rich ones are more equal than the others.
A Lebanese man was kidnapped to Syria last month. A bad guest didn’t like him and just took him to now lawless Syria to be killed there. The good Free Syrian Army (FSA) did their job for once. They released the poor terrified guy after a week. When he came back to report his kidnapping to the police, he was told by the officer that nothing can be done to the “bad guest” of Turkey. They kidnapper is free and still working for the same hotel where the poor Lebanese was kidnapped.
How that relates to me, some might wonder. Well, I am receiving death threats, warnings not to go to certain places, and phone calls from people who know exactly where I live. As a good guest, I thought of reporting this to the police, but then along came Rabih, the poor Lebanese victim who is still struggling to travel back home because the bad guest stole all of his money. Some told me to stop what I am doing or hide. Well, let’s see!