On recent Turkish Airlines flights, after passengers watch the usual safety video they are also shown a short film lauding the virtues of Istanbul’s gigantic new third airport, expected to open in October. But, according to accounts by construction workers struggling to finish the airport on time, conditions at the site couldn’t be further from the harmonious and sparkling world the video portrays.
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In this special feature, Emina Ćerimović and photographer Zalmaï investigate the mental health crisis facing asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos.
Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia Researcher, and Andrew Stroehlein, Europe Media Director discuss Yusuf Ruzimuradov, a long-imprisoned journalist released today.
Plus: Turkey airport workers jailed for demanding better conditions; Mauritania charges activist who decried racism; telecommunications bill in Australia would threaten rights; unique opportunities for women foreign ministers’ summit; Hong Kong recognizes same sex couples on visas; closed trials for rights defender in Chechnya; and soldiers detained in connection with death of 9-year old in Somalia.
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Lesbos, a postcard-perfect vacation island in the northern Aegean Sea, is a haven for people fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. It symbolizes the hope that somewhere in Europe there is refuge. It is also a graveyard for the countless corpses that have washed ashore on its beautiful coastline. And it’s hell for the thousands who are trapped there, victims of the European Union’s determination to stem the tide of asylum seekers and other migrants by sending a message that they are unwelcome. For all of its natural beauty, there is much fear on Lesbos. Fear caused by the traumas of war, violence and displacement and of harsh camp conditions, insecurity and uncertain futures. Fear of rejection, detention, and deportation. Fear of going to the toilet in the dark at night, or not eating after two hours in a food line. Fear of lice and scabies. Fear of winter, cold and damp.
Metal towers of lights reached out of the sea and flames belched into the midnight sky as the Aquarius reached Bouri Field, the largest oilfield in the Mediterranean, about 65 nautical miles north of Libya. I had been sitting cross-legged on deck of this rescue ship, listening to a group of West African men telling unbearable stories of captivity and brutality in Libya, the country they had just fled. Amadou concluded, to earnest nods all around, “God left Libya a long time ago.”
“What will happen to us?” “Will they fingerprint us?” was the constant refrain as we watched a human wave of asylum seekers and migrants from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan crossing the Serbia-Hungary border.