(Washington, D.C.) — Following the collapse of the democratic government in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s seizure of power, the United States and Europe now face an acute Afghan refugee crisis. Experts are predicting a flood of between twenty and thirty thousand displaced Afghan citizens per week, making their way westward, in search of safety and asylum.
However, while in most cases western democracies are coordinating to grant them safe passage and new homes, the Turkish government has committed to strongly bolstering its security in order to keep Afghan refugees from entering the country.
Turkish Democracy Project Executive Director Madeleine Joelson and Senior Advisor Diliman Abdulkader have both condemned this behavior.
TDP Executive Director Madeleine Joelson said:
“The Turkish government is currently heightening its border security with a view to preventing the entry of Afghan refugees into the country. It is unclear whether the Erdogan government has any plans to grant them even safe passage across the border into Europe.
“Cynical in its own right, this decision could prove disastrous if the refugee population on the Turkish border grows to the numbers which are naturally to be expected. Erdogan’s military forces have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to disregard the humanity of vast populations of people when doing so is politically efficacious.
“This crisis once again underscores the importance of holding Turkey accountable in an effort to halt its drift towards authoritarianism. Recent events in Afghanistan are a sobering reminder of how fragile democracy can be. They are also a reminder of Turkey’s importance in the region as a promoter of peace and cultural freedom. Turkey has been able to play that role historically, and although its current government is moving in a worrying direction, we believe it can do so again.
“This is a moment in which western states are being forced to re-evaluate their international commitments and reconsider how they pick their battles in the effort to promote and protect democracy worldwide. In this process of self-reflection, it should become obvious that halting Turkey’s drift towards authoritarianism is a cause we cannot afford to abandon.”
TDP Senior Advisor Diliman Abdulkader said:
“The images of Afghan refugees fleeing for their lives from the encroachment of the Taliban will haunt the international community for years to come. One community that is unfortunately familiar with this experience are the Kurdish people of Syria and Iraq. In the past few years, they have been mercilessly targeted by the Turkish military, who have killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands more in an ongoing illegal invasion, occupation, and expansion into Kurdistan.
“In all that time, the international community have done nothing. They have allowed Turkey, a nominal democracy, to engage in war crimes reminiscent of those committed only by the most barbarous of authoritarian states, while, on the domestic front the Erdogan government has ramped up persecution of political opponents, journalists, ethnic minorities, women and the LGBTQ community.
“In spite of this, a democratic tradition remains in Turkey to be salvaged. Domestic opposition to the current government is strong. If the international community bands together at this crucial moment to support civil society in Turkey and deter it from its current path, Turkey may yet be brought fully back into the fold of the western democracy.”