Integration researchers expect a wave of immigration from Turkey if Turkish President Erdogan wins the elections. There are some Kurds in the country planning to escape – like Turgut.
Turgut actually has a different name. He does not want to be recognized out of fear. The 30-year-old lives in the Kurdish stronghold of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey. “Live your life like you’ve never lived it before” is written in English on his T-shirt, and “Enjoy every minute of it”. But the young Kurdish man with a full beard is still far from it.
He’s tense as he speaks – and tries to watch the entrance to the coffee shop he opened a few months ago. Since then, he has struggled with restrictions on live music, increased taxes on alcohol and other new regulations. All of this makes it difficult for him to earn enough money, he explains: “The economic pressure is great. If I were to get married now, I would have to go into huge debts for an apartment, or gold jewelry, or a facility. That’s just the way it is for all the young people here ye the people “.
A family fighting for more rights for the Kurds
His fingers play with his lighter. Finally, he started talking about his politically active family. In this region, that means fighting for more rights for the Kurds — in whatever form he did not say. He himself used to get involved with the pro-Kurdish HDP youth. That led to two court cases—without a conviction, he says, showing his face.
He should get out of Turkey if Erdogan remains in power to avoid ending up in prison. “It is about our resistance, our uprising ever since. Now they are trying to intimidate you with investigations, trials and imprisonment.” He always has one leg in prison, he says, as he turns to the doorway — regardless of whether or not he’s politically involved.
“As soon as I get the offer, I’m leaving.”
Last week he was at the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul. “I have already applied for a Schengen visa. But I hear you often only get one after the second or third application. I still have a shop and a job here. I will travel there first as a tourist. Work visa etc. – that will be the second step” .
In emergencies, he would also clean toilets in Holland, he says, and pick up a pen as a novelty. A friend wanted to go to Greece illegally with smugglers last week. He has not been heard from since. He’s worried.
There is hardly any furniture in his apartment near the coffee shop. Next to the bed is a small carry-on bag and a backpack. “I’ll take two suitcases with me. They’re still empty. But all my things are ready. I even put my shoes in the boxes. It’s all ironed. As soon as I get confirmation, I’ll go.”
There is hardly any furniture in Turgut’s apartment. He is ready to leave the country quickly.
The Kurds fear a worse situation
He took out two crumpled pieces of paper from his bag, the visa application receipts. He paid 2,000 lira, about 100 euros: that’s a lot of money in Turkey these days. The money is gone even if his application is denied. It’s worth it for him. He is also going to leave his girlfriend behind for a new life in freedom.
The race in the presidential elections between Erdogan and his rival Kilicdaroglu is tight. “If Kilicdaroglu wins, we will celebrate. If the government wins again, everything will remain the same,” says Turgut. Or worse, many Kurds fear it. Under no circumstances will Turgot abandon his plans to emigrate entirely, he says — as he now lets his lighter wander through his fingers again. It seems he doesn’t trust anyone anymore.