Last Updated 14 Apr 2020

Migration Tragedies in Nearby Geography of Turkey

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The term migration is the movement of individuals or communities from one place to another either enforcedly or voluntarily. Migrations that are almost the same age as human history can depend on many different reasons, in accordance with the spirit of the time. Economic, political, wars, brain drain, race; religion and sect differences are the important reasons for the migration. In this article, the focus will be on the tragic migration of our nearby geography in the recent history.


The low employment opportunity in countries where economic development is slow leads to migration towards countries and regions where these possibilities are developed. The migration of workers from Turkey to many countries, especially Germany and France, started in the late 1960s and continued for a long time.

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After the Second World War, the Western European countries, which were in a rapid development process, tried to meet the deficiencies in their labor supply from neighboring countries in the South, relatively less developed. This request directed to Turkey in the early 60s. Turkish emigration to Western Europe begins by the agreement with Germany made in 1961. This followed similar agreements with Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands in 1964, with France in 1965, and Switzerland in 1967.

Additionally, Turkey has implemented its first five-year development plan in 1962. In line with this plan, "increasing labor exports" was considered a plan goal, along with measures to curb population growth. In the years 1966-67, the German automobile industry, which the Turks worked extensively, had the crisis and about 70,000 Turkish workers had fired. Workers who lost their jobs tried to find jobs in neighboring countries such as Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and those who could not find shelter with their coworkers for a while.

The Turkish immigration process which was based on the individual invitation format and the institutional invitation format before bilateral agreements were signed. This process for the central regions, where labor is dominant from the surrounding regions, is the first phase of international labor migration that has never lost its unwavering social, economic, cultural and political dimensions.

In the early years of migration until the mid-70s, the majority of immigrants were physically robust men who successfully passed through health checks. This trend gained momentum after 1963 with the partnership agreement signed between Turkey and the EEC. The following governments supported immigration. The promotion of worker' migration has been carried out as the official policy of the Turkish States since the beginning.

Due to the economic crisis brought by the oil embargo in Western European countries, there have been significant changes in the structure of Turkish migrants, especially after 1973, when they stopped the recruitment of workers from Turkey. The Family Reunification Act, which first took effect in the Federal Republic of Germany at the beginning of March 1974, created a situation allowing Turkish immigrant workers to bring their family members to the countries they found.

Since then, the family reunification process has become the main channel of legal immigration to European countries and has continued with the ongoing applications for marriage, illegal immigration, and asylum for political purposes. Based on bilateral agreements with Germany on October 30, 1961, by the state initiated the process of Germany's Turkish emigration was legally terminated with stopping the intake of labor migration from Turkey on November 30, 1973. However, despite all the measures taken during certain periods of the migration movement, it is a known fact that it has been associated with global dynamics and is a systematic migration style.


In the war, which began in the late 70s when the Russians invaded Afghanistan and whose counterparts changed today, millions of people from Afghanistan left their homeland and homes and have to refugee many countries of the world, mainly their neighboring countries. In the same way, because of the invasion of Iraq by America, millions of Iraqis had to leave their land.

One of the biggest and most tragic migrations of our history is the exodus of the Caucasian peoples of May 21, 1864.
The Russian-Caucasian wars in 1763-1864 have been recorded as one of the bloodiest wars in history. During the 101 years of war, more than five thousand Caucasian lives were lost, while hundreds of thousands of Circassian were forced to leave the motherland. On May 21, 1864, the war in Kbaada Valley near Sochi resulted in the victory of Tsarist Russia, and it was "the beginning of the end" for the Circassians.

Within the framework of the population policy of Tsarist Russia, around 1.5 million Circassians were gathered in port towns such as Tuapse, Sochi, and Sod and exiled to Ottoman lands, especially Varna, Samsun, Sinop, and Trabzon. However, due to reasons such as road conditions, epidemics and starvation during the exile, around one million Circasans lost their lives according to unofficial figures. The Circassians predominantly expelled to the lands of Anatolia and Rumelia and then migrated to regions such as Syria and Jordan.

In Bulgaria, the Muslim-Turkish people have been subjected to very hard intervention by the Bulgarian government when they tried to resist the efforts of the governments for Bulgarianization. They have been subjected to oppression, torture, and persecution. Even the camper is closed; one of the most famous of these camps is the camp of BELENE. As a result, more than three hundred thousand Muslim Turks who escaped the Bulgarian persecution with the opening of the border gates of the Turkish government have left all their savings and immigrated to the mainland.

The "Rebirth" and "Great Trip" policies, in 1984 and 1989, aimed at ethnic cleansing, implemented the policy of "Ending the Turkish Problem" in Bulgaria: ethnic assimilation and forced displacement/exile. Both strategies have been tried repeatedly with the establishment of Bulgaria as the nation-state. In the 1920-30s, the objective of this arrangement was to disintegrate the Turkish character under the Muslim personality and relocate the Turkist-Kemalist-Turanian portions for the development of Bulgarian Muslims, to help religious comprehension and to keep the spread of current Turkish in Bulgaria, in this way obliterating the ethnic ties with Turkey.

After the failure of this strategy, relying on the strength of the Ottoman identity and the fact that Turkish consciousness has not yet matured, a two-dimensional ethnic cleansing strategy was introduced, while ethnic assimilation against the Pomak minority was dominant, and the migration strategy, which was put into effect in every decade, was implemented within the Turkish society.

In the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds were persecuted and oppressed because of their ethnic differences, had to leave their lands and migrate to neighboring countries, especially Turkey.

As a result of the 1991 Gulf War, popular uprisings against the Baas Party regime in South and Northern Iraq began. One month after the war began, in February 1991, George W H Bush, the US president of the time, invited people to revolt with these famous words of him:
" There's another way for the bloodshed to stop, and this is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside."

As a natural consequence, millions of people in Iraq had no difficulty believing that it would be possible to get rid of Saddam if the US, which had been bombing Iraq at that time, was in their own ranks.

Although these riots--the period that was relatively unexpected--faced by the Iraqi Republican Guard's agile and violent interventions. Saddam's forces have found life in a very disturbing range, from burning gas from helicopters to burning people to bombing hospitals where they were wounded.

However, the support that the United States implied at various levels did not come at all. In particular, Turkey's fear of a fragmented Iraq, and the diplomatic pressure on this issue, is to step back to support the riots that could result in the US government declaring the independence of the Kurds, and Saddam's In response to the riots, it was enough to let tens of thousands of people die.

The riots that began against a dictator in the region with this back step of the United States suddenly transformed into the biggest migration of the last 50 years. Only in March and April, nearly two million Kurds began to flee to Iraq's northern border neighbors, Turkey and Iran, among the ruins of the war, which were suddenly part of their lives.

The US, the UN, Turkey, and Iran's inexperience in keeping the situation under control has worsen the suffering of the people trapped in the interests of the state. During the migration, thousands of people, mostly children, died from the weather conditions, hunger, thirst and health problems, as well as the shooting of helicopters at civilian populations from time to time. According to estimates made by the United Nations data, an average of 2,000 Kurds per day was killed in a section of 1991. After the Gulf War in 1991, around 470 thousand people fled to Turkey.

The most dramatic examples in our recent history were in Bosnia and in our border neighbor Syria. In Syria, it is still ongoing in the form of domestic and foreign immigration.

The Bosnian War is the most violent war in Europe since the second World War, in which a series of ethnic conflicts took place between March 1992 and November 1995, and many war crimes, especially ethnic cleansing, were committed. According to the official sources during and after the war, only Turkey, 20.000 people had to emigrate. In addition, more than 1.5 million Bosnian-Muslim people had to leave their lands. About 20,000 to 30,000 women were raped. This war has passed on the history of the world as the bloodiest and systematic genocide.

On the other hand, in Syria, approximately 400,000 people lost their lives in the civil war, which began with a small protest on March 11, 2011 and became one of the biggest catastrophes in the Middle East. While 3 million people were wounded in the civil war, 1 million people were disabled. Due to the Syrian civil war, millions of people fell to refugee status and the historic structures were destroyed as if they could not be repaired.

With the process called Arab Spring, the overthrow of the 30-year Husnu Mubarak rule had deeply affected the peoples of the region, not just Egypt. This historic revolution dominated Bahrain, Libya, Morocco and even Gaddafi's death.

During this period, when the people's movements led to great revolutions, two female doctors expressed their happiness about the situation while they were talking on the phone. These two women, who were listened to by the intelligence of the phones, were arrested, and their hair was shaved as punishment. On top of that, the 12-13 children, a relative of one of these women, wrote the slogan "The people want the order to be demolished." The principal of the school is complaining about these kids in intelligence. They run the children in and expose them to severe torture.


There have been many migrations in our country as well as in our close geography due to the oppressive and limiting reasons of the powers. After the coup in our country on September 12, 1980, and after the regime change in Iran in 1979, hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their homes and their homeland.

Brain Drain

The level of sophistication of those who want to live a better and more comfortable life and continue their academic careers in countries with broader possibilities is a kind of immigration that they do with their own consent to developed countries.

Work Cited

  1. "152 Y?ld?r Dinmeyen Ac?: Çerkes Sürgünü." Al Jazeera Turk - Ortado?u, Kafkasya, Balkanlar, Türkiye Ve Çevresindeki Bölgeden Son Dakika Haberleri Ve Analizler, 21 May 2016,
  2. "Literatürde 1989 Göçü Öncesi Ve Sonras?." Tarihe Not Dü?mek:1989 Göçü Giri?, edited by Hüseyin Mevsim and Muzaffer Kutlay, Uluslararas? Stratejik Ara?t?rmalar Kurumu, 2013, pp. 61–62.
  3. Grossman, Lev. "Did the U.S. Betray Iraqis in 1991?" CNN, Cable News Network, 7 Apr. 2003,
  4. Eren, Murat A. "SEZAY ÖZBAL'IN OBJEKT?F?NDEN: 90'l? Y?llarda Kürt Göçü." Bianet - Bagimsiz Iletisim Agi, 17 Mar. 2012,
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