- Title: From bitcoin dreamer to fugitive, fleeing the Taliban for Turkey
- Date: 25th August 2021
- Summary: TATVAN, TURKEY (AUGUST 23, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) AFGHAN MIGRANT, MUHAMMAD ALI, SAYING: "So, therefore, I got heartbroken and come here to Turkey. After that, I will go further and this is my request to Turkey government. Please don't beat us. We are not terrorists. We are not terrorists in your country. We will not fight your civilians. We will never be (do) theft here. We will never rob (people) here. We are Muslims, like you, and we want peace." VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS ENTERING TUNNEL TO HIDE FROM AUTHORITIES VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS SITTING INSIDE TUNNEL AFGHAN MIGRANT KASHIF, (20), SITTING ON THE GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN MIGRANT, KASHIF, SAYING: "I want to live in Turkey. I ask the Turkish government to please help us, please don't deny us and let us stay in your nation. We will do no wrong. Anyone that does anything wrong we will stand by them for the government to meet the worst punishment. Whether it is an Afghani, a Pakistani, Iranian, nobody wants their nation to be ruined or destroyed. Just please punish those culprits directly, other poor Afghans shouldn't be punished for someone else's wrongdoing." VARIOUS OF MIGRANTS SITTING ON THE GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN MIGRANT, WAIS MUHAMMAD SHEHRZAD, SAYING: "We are forced to leave our country and flee, we are displaced. Look we are sitting on the ground, we eat things that no human should have to eat." VARIOUS OF DAYLIGHT SEEN AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL WHERE MIGRANTS ARE SEATED ON THE GROUND VAN, TURKEY (AUGUST 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING IN STREET VARIOUS OF WOMEN SHOPPING AT A LOCAL BAZAAR VARIOUS OF A CUSTOMER BUYING A GIFT FROM VAN RESIDENT SELAMI KIYEN'S SHOP (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) VAN RESIDENT AND SHOPKEEPER, SELAMI KIYEN, (42), SAYING: "We don't want to see them here. We don't want a single Afghan to be in Turkey because we don't go there either. If we go there, they wouldn't look after us, not even for a single day. Let me tell you that." VARIOUS OF WOMEN SHOPPING (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) RETIRED SHOPKEEPER, MEHMET SERIF KARAKAS, (54), SAYING: "I don't think that the government has taken enough measures against this migration (wave). If they take really strict measures, we wouldn't have this much migration. With the flow of this migration, people no longer have peace. There is a rise in theft and unemployment." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING PAST SHOPS
- Embargoed: 8th September 2021 06:42
- Keywords: Afghanistan Turkey migrants
- Location: VAN, TATVAN, TURKEY, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
- City: VAN, TATVAN, TURKEY, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Europe,Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Middle East,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003ERS4P53
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Muhammad Ali said he dreamt of building a cryptocurrency business before the Taliban began its sweep through Afghanistan, forcing him into a daunting journey west through Iran and Turkey, evading border guards and security searches as he went.
The Taliban victory in Afghanistan has raised concerns in Turkey, a staging post for many migrants trying to reach Europe and already home to nearly 4 million Syrians, of a new influx of refugees. It has ramped up security on its border with Iran - but some Afghans are still getting through.
Sheltering in a drainage tunnel outside the Tatvan district of Turkey's eastern Bitlis province, Ali, a young man in his 20s from Afghanistan's Khost province, said he was waiting for transport west and wanted to go on to Europe. Around 50 others were sheltering with him.
Ali said he had studied computer science and taught web and graphic design in Afghanistan. He said he had a YouTube channel where he posted videos on topics including how to make money online.
"I was planning a bitcoin or ethereum mining business... Suddenly everything changed and the Taliban took over all of Afghanistan," he said.
"There is no internet. If there is no internet, I cannot do my job there," he said.
After trekking for weeks through Iran, migrants who enter Turkey's eastern province of Van make their way by foot, bus or boat to the town of Tatvan on the western shores of Lake Van.
On their way they try to evade police checkpoints, raids on their hideouts and coast guard vessels which patrol the huge lake, where a boat carrying around 60 migrants sank last year killing them all.
Wais Muhammad Shehrzad, 30, said he left Afghanistan a month ago, paying $1,000 to traffickers and walking up to 50 hours at a time with little sustenance on the way.
"We are forced to leave our country and flee, we are displaced. Look we are sitting on the ground, we eat things that no human should have to eat," he said, telling
others in the group to sit down to avoid being seen.
Shehrzad said he was from Kabul and had worked as a shoe maker and previously as an English teacher. He wanted to get to Istanbul, find work, and send money back to his family.
In recent weeks Turkish police have detained thousands of Afghan migrants among an estimated 300,000 in the country. Those caught in Bitlis are sent to a repatriation centre in Van, although Afghans are currently not sent back to their country because of the turmoil there.
A day after he spoke to Reuters, Ali sent a text message. "We are arrested by police," it said.
(Production: Bulent Usta, Parniyan Zemaryalai,Yesim Dikmen)
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