Increasing poverty, economic and environmental factors due to ongoing war and conflict conditions in several regions of the world result in major population movements and displacements. Internal conflicts in the Middle East and especially in Syria in 2011 have caused significant political, social, economic and cultural changes in this region, most notably in Turkey and in many parts of the world. These dynamics which resulted in major population movements and displacements have a significant impact on the political and social structure of Turkey and become a new sociological phenomenon.
The present study was conducted as a follow up on our research between the dates of 20.12.2021-10.01.2022 and focused on measuring social, political, economic and cultural trends in the Kurdish generation Z and on their future plans, worries and satisfaction levels. This part of our study focuses on measuring perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish generation Z towards asylum seekers and refugees and underlying factors of these dynamics.
This study which is synthesized with the field data of our previous Kurdish generation Z study is supported by similar studies and premier sources and focuses on the dynamics that shape the view of the members of this generation on “foreigners” , “others” within the context of refugees and asylum seekers and seeks to reveal social, cultural and psychological background of these groups’ interests, perceptions and attitudes. The study findings are examined in 5 main categories in questions about asylum seekers and refugees: 1- Residence permit, 2-Economic impact, 3-Repatriation, 4-Citizenship and 5-Social relationships.
Our present study which is supported by field data is neither an asylum seeker and refugee barometer nor a study specifically focused on Syrians. We believe that understanding the attitudes of the Kurdish generation Z concerning legal status, co-existence, integration, repatriation or “foreigner” label of the refugees and asylum seekers who have migrated/have been forced to migrate to Turkey for a variety of reasons is important to build the future.
Members of the Kurdish generation Z which constitute the most dynamic groups of the Kurdish society and the country is a group that has experienced village evacuations and forced migration. The perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish generation Z towards refugees and asylum seekers who have gone through similar displacement ordeals despite for different reasons are shaped by the effect of the general perspective about these people in the country. This is an important parameter for building future in Turkey.
We hope that this present survey report will contribute to understanding both how the Kurdish generation Z approaches to the issue of refugees and asylum seekers, a new social reality in the country in their future plans and the underlying factors.
We would like to thank to our team who provided guidance, coordinated face to face interviews and to everyone who supported and guided us with their ideas from the beginning to the end. We would also like to thank the members of the Kurdish generation Z who participated in our study and answered patiently to our questions.
As of August 2022, there are approximately 4 million asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey, most of them from Syria who have different statuses such as temporary protection, international protection and conditional refugee (UNHCR, 2022). This report investigates the perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish generation Z towards asylum seekers and refugees who remain in Turkey or are waiting to be relocated in a third country as a result of conflicts and socio-economic difficulties in their home countries. During interviews conducted face to face with 1,002 young people between the ages of 18-25 who live in Diyarbakır, Van, Şırnak, İzmir and Istanbul, the respondents were asked questions about granting residence permits to asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey, the impact of asylum seekers and refugees on the Turkish economy, granting citizenships to asylum seekers and refugees and social relations they can build with asylum seekers and refugees.
The findings of this study demonstrate that respondents of Kurdish Generation Z generally have a negative perception and attitude towards asylum seekers and refugees and the underlying reasons are both the opinion of the general public on asylum seekers and refugees in the country and difficult sociopolitical and socioeconomic conditions of the respondents. Factors including internal migration experience, living in socio-economically developed cities developed with high sociocultural awareness and high level of education have a relatively positive effect on the perception and attitude towards asylum seekers and refugees. On the other hand, female respondents have a less negative attitude compared to male respondents. A majority of the respondents do not prioritize “right based approach” about the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, which suggests a worrying trend. On the other hand those who support the rights of asylum seekers and refugees generally have a consistent and holistic approach and include all the above rights.
Those who report that they don’t belong to a religion support the rights of asylum seekers and refugees more compared to those who report that they belong to a religion (majority of respondents in this group claim that they are Muslims). Here, the equation of ensar-muhacir (ensar” meaning citizens from Medina who helped Muhammad and his companions and “muhacir” meaning immigrant) used by the government for Syrian refugees does not seem to resonate among the Kurdish generation Z.
The present study presents findings similar to previous studies and research on the Generation Z in Turkey and respondents in this study see asylum seekers and respondents as a risk or threat for employment opportunities, peace and wealth of the society in the country and explain it with false facts, which all show that adjectives used for the Generation Z such as “freedom-lover”, “open minded” and “creative” do not apply when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees.
Finally based on the study findings and evaluation of these findings, the report makes some recommendations to the government, opposition parties, local and international nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian aid organizations, public and policy makers.
According to the data of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are four million asylum seekers and refugees registered in Turkey as of March 2020. There are 3.7 million Syrians, 167,325 Iraqis, 129,323 Afghans and 24,300 Iranians in this population (UNHCR, 2022). One of the most important problems, after civil war and poverty, faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey from various countries most notably Syria and Afghanistan is the racist and hostile attitude (Duman, 2022)which also includes direct (physical and/or psychological), structural and cultural/symbolic violence from local communities and politicians (Galtung, 1990).Although the local community and refugees and asylum seekers have common personal and collective needs and problems, the economic crisis, polarization, upcoming elections and prolonged stay of refugees and asylum seekers in the country and arrival of new ones in the country result in worsening of existing attitudes of the public towards these groups.
Available studies demonstrate that local communities avoid having any relation or contact with refugees, object to their citizenship and believe that they should be returned/repatriated to their countries or sent to a third country as soon as possible or when the war is over and that they damage the Turkish economy and social values (Erdoğan, 2020; Şar and Kuru, 2020; Duman, 2021a; Ruhavioğlu et al., 2022).
Compared to 27 EU countries Turkey has the highest percentage of young population in Europe (TÜİK, 2022). Young Kurdish generation, which represents one of the most important section of the young generation in Turkey is one of the most important building stones to understand youth dynamism in the country. According to the TUIK data, the total population of Turkey as of 2021 was 84 million 680 thousand 273 and the young population between the ages of 15-24 was 12 million 971 thousand 289. Based on this data, young population represents 15.3 percent of the total population. According to the results of the Address Based Population Registration System (ADNKS) the top three cities with the highest percentage of young population is Hakkari with 22.8 percent, Şırnak with 22.1% and Siirt with 21.8% where the majority of the population is Kurdish. The cities with the highest young population percentages include cities with higher Kurdish population such as Ağrı, Muş, Van, Batman, Bitlis, Mardin, Urfa, Iğdır, Erzurum, Diyarbakır, Kars, Bingöl, Antep and Adıyaman. The percentage of young population between the ages of 15-24 in 18 cities with a high Kurdish population is 28.1 percent while this percentage is 22.4% in other cities in Turkey.
This study investigates the perceptions of the Kurdish generation Z about migration and settlement of refugees and asylum seekers who come to Turkey due to socioeconomic problems and armed conflicts in their country, about sending back refugees and asylum seekers whose lives known to be under threat; about allowing citizenships to those who have been in Turkey temporarily under different statuses and about relationships they can build with refugees and asylum seekers and socioeconomic, sociopolitical and socio-psychological factors that may be related with these perceptions.
Studies on the Generation Z in Turkey
While recent public opinion surveys about the Generation Z1,2 investigate the perspective of this generation on the business world, future concerns and general discrimination (Deloitte, 2021) and which parties they tend to support (ORC, 2022), thesis and dissertation papers of master and doctorate students examine this generation from a wider angle. This wider angle includes consumption habits including social media use, perception of religion, work life, leadership, satisfaction in life-future concerns and career perspectives. There are limited number of studies that investigate the opinion of the generation Z on the refugees and asylum seekers. The study of Yılmaz and Güler in (2020a) which investigated the opinion of the generation Z on the employment of refugees in the country, majority of the respondents considered employment of refugees as a worrying factor since they thought that employment of especially young Syrian refugees lowers their chance of being employed and increases the competition. Another study conducted by them in the same year found that majority of the respondents did not support Syrians coming and living in Turkey (76%) and believed that the policies about this issue were inadequate (76.3%), that Syrians disrupt the social structure in the country (82.4%) and Syrians have privileges in terms of social rights (78.2%) (Yılmaz and Güler, 2020b). Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s (KAS, 2022) study demonstrated that majority of the respondents did not think that the government’s refugee policy was right (80.4%), believed that Syrians should be sent back (76.7%) and if Syrians stayed in Turkey, they would not adapt to the life in Turkey due to the differences in culture and life style. In the same study, approximately one fourth of the respondents believed that Syrians should be helped only in healthcare and food and no help should be provided for other areas (26.6%) and believed that refugees from other countries, especially from Syria caused unemployment (25.1%) in the country (KAS, 2022). Finally in the Varkey Foundation’s research on the generation Z, one third of the respondents (31%) believed that conditions for the ‘legal’ refugees to come to Turkey and work here should be made more stringent and limiting (Broadbent et al., 2017). On the other hand, approximately one fourth of the respondents (23%) think that this process should be made easier (Varkey Foundation, 2017). The same study shows that almost half of the respondents (49%) believed that Turkey does the best it can for the “global migration crisis (Broadbent et al., 2017).
Based on the limited number of studies that investigate perceptions and attitudes of the generation Z towards refugees and asylum seekers, there are some points worth mentioning. Contrary to the available global or multinational studies (sparks&honey, 2020; Deloitte, 2022) this study shows that members of the generation Z in Turkey mostly ignore cultural differences and inclusivity at work and in social life when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers. Additionally we can also see that the generation Z in Turkey typically have a negative attitude towards the presence of asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey and think that they should be sent back to Syria or sent to another country as soon as possible regardless of whether such refugees and asylum seekers are “legally” in Turkey.
The present study uses the data about refugees and asylum seekers collected with the Kurdish Generation Z study (Spectrum House, 2022) which we, Spectrum House published and intends to investigate perceptions and attitudes of the respondents towards refugees and asylum seekers and makes contributions to this subject. First of all, the majority of the studies conducted in Turkey consider Generation Z members as homogenous contrary to the real situation in the society. This study investigates perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish society which is a minority group that has been subject to several discriminatory policies and practices and racist attitudes, towards refugees and asylum seekers who are also subject to similar discriminatory and racist policies, practices and attitudes. While doing this, this study acknowledges that the Kurdish society has a heterogeneous structure. Furthermore, a significant part of the available studies are interested on finding out what the respondents think about certain subjects. The present study intends to determine which political, economic, social and psychological factors could be related to the perceptions and attitudes of the respondents.
In this study, we conducted a survey with 1,002 young people between the ages of 18-25 who identify themselves as Kurdish in 28 sampling region in Diyarbakır, Van and Şırnak which are the three Kurdish cities with the youngest population and Izmir and Istanbul. The face to face survey was done using printed questionnaire forms and smart devices between the dates of 20th of December – 10th of January 2022 according to the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS2). The margin of error for the study findings is +/−1.7 with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The respondents in this study were informed that they would fill out a questionnaire about the opinions of the Kurdish generation Z, that the participation was completely voluntary, that they could end the questionnaire whenever they wanted and all the information provided would be kept confidential and would never be disclosed to third parties and no identity information would be required and confidentiality was essential during the survey.
In addition to questions about demographics such as age, gender, education, income level, employment status, religion and language spoken at home (see Table 1), the following questions were also asked. Some of these were open ended question, while others were closed ended (yes/no) and scale based questions (on a scale of 1 to 5).
Questions about refugees and asylum seekers were designed to investigate perceptions and attitudes of the respondents towards refugees and asylum seekers in five main areas. In the first two of these questions, the respondents were asked ‘why’ to explain the underlying reasons for their answers.
- Should people with low socioeconomic status and/or coming from conflict zones be allowed to settle in Turkey as refugees or asylum seekers? (1 = should never be allowed, 5= should always be allowed).
- Would it be generally bad or good for the Turkish economy if people with low socioeconomic status and/or coming from conflict zones are allowed to settle in Turkey as refugees or asylum seekers? (1 = Very Bad – 5 = Very Good )
- According to the 1951 Geneva Convention signed also by Turkey, refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. Do you think refugees/asylum seekers meeting this definition in Turkey (Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, Somalis etc.) should be returned to their countries despite the convention?(1= must be returned – 5-must never be returned).
- According to the UNHCR statistics, a majority of refugees and asylum seekers who settle in other countries due to forced migration remain in these countries. Should citizenship be granted to all the refugees in Turkey under temporary protection and international protection? (a-citizenship should be granted to none, b-citizenship should only be granted to those with good education, c -citizenship should only be granted to those who can make investments, d-citizenship should be granted to all of them)
- What kind of relationship do you think you can build with the refugees in Turkey (a-close friendship, b-neighbour, c-romantic relationship, d-marriage, e-roommate, f-colleague). The number of social relationship forms was added together to calculate respondents’ scores for “social intimacy” between 0-6.
The basic questions included in the questionnaire which we believe to help explain the perceptions and attitudes of respondents towards asylum seekers and refugees are listed below. All of the answers given to these questions were shared in our previously published report titled Kurdish generation Z (Spectrum House, 2022); this present study focuses on understanding the relationship between these answers with the answers to the above questions about refugees and asylum seekers.
- How satisfied are you with your life these days? (1-Not satisfied – 5= very satisfied)
- How satisfied are you with the city you live in? (1-Not satisfied – 5= very satisfied)
- Can you please rate your trust in the following institutions? (a-Presidency, b-TBMM, c-Justice system, d-Army, e-Political Parties, f-Municipality, g-Academia/Universities, h-Science Board, i-EU, j-UN, k-ECHR). The number of chosen institutions was added together to calculate the “trust in institutions” score of each respondent between 0 – 13.
- Which of the following is the biggest reason for insecurity for you? (a-Unemployment, b-Health issues, c-Future worries about the country, d-personal future worries, e-Environmental problems/climate change, f-Not being able to have a good education, g- Refugees in Turkey and refugees coming to Turkey, h-Economic crisis). The number of chosen factors was added together to calculate the “socioeconomic insecurity” score of each respondent ranging between 0 – 8.
- Which of the following is a bigger source of worry for you? (a-Social polarization, b-Racism, c-Sexual harassment, d-Femicide, e-Famine, f-Wars and conflicts, g-Military tutelage, h-Civilian tutelage). The number of chosen factors was added together to calculate the respondents’ “sociopathic worry” score between 0-9 were calculated.
- Do you think there is discrimination in the country? (Yes/No)
- Because of your identity, do you feel that you belong to a group which is discriminated or abused in the country? (Yes/No)
- Why are you being discriminated? (a-Ethnical identity, b-Religion, c-Language, d-Economic status, e-Age, f-Gender, g-Sexual orientation, h-Visible or invisible disability). The number of chosen factors was added together and the respondents’ “discrimination” score between 0-8 were calculated.
- In which of the following institutions do you think there is systematic discrimination (a-General public, b-Media, c-Army, d-Police force, e-Courts, f-Municipality, g-Governorship, h-Workplace, i-School/University, j-Political parties, k-NGOs). The number of chosen factors was added together to calculate respondents’’ “institutional discrimination” score between 0-12 were calculated.
- How interested are you in politics? (1-Not interested- 5= very interested)
- How satisfied are you with the way democracy works in Turkey? (1-Not satisfied – 5= very satisfied)
The respondents’ perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers and potential related factors are explained under the section ‘findings’ with cross tables and correlation analyses.
When we look at the below given demographic information, the majority of the respondents are high school or university graduates, their monthly income is low and a significant percentage of the respondents work and study. Similarly a majority of the respondents report that they belong to a religion (67.3% Muslim, 1.1% Alawite and one out of three in the remaining respondents chose Zarathustrian, Christian and Yezidi) and the remaining respondents (23.9%) report that they do not belong to a religion. Finally, most of the respondents report that they speak Turkish and/or Arabic in their homes in addition to Kurdish.
Demographic Information of the Respondents
The study findings are examined in 5 main categories using the questions about asylum seekers and refugees: residence permit, economic impact, repatriation, citizenship and social relations.
1 – Residence permit
In the following charts, when we look at the answers of the respondents about granting residence permits to refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey depending on the variables; the city they live in, gender, education level and religious identity, we see that the respondents generally have a negative attitude. While some of the respondents who answer that they should not be granted residence permit gave the reasons included in Table 1 for their answers. According to the direct statements of the respondents, refugees and asylum seekers are mostly perceived as one of the reasons for economic problems and unemployment, increased crime rates, disturbed peace and social structure and insecurity. Additionally the answers of some of the respondents show that they have an attitude that dehumanizes refugees and asylum seekers. There are even respondents who define refugees and asylum seekers as a “dirty and aggressive”, “savage and damaging”, “horny (for men)” , “invading” group. Another group of respondents have such negative perception about refugees and asylum seekers that they outright say that they “do not like” them and even “hate” them.
|Table 1. Short answers of the respondents to the question asking why refugees and asylum seekers should not be allowed to come and settle in Turkey.|
|They disturb people.||We are already highly populated.|
|Their crime rates tell everything.||Unemployment rates will increase.|
|Life in Turkey is already hard.||We are afraid that they take our living spaces from us.|
|There is no need.||Their men are horny.|
|Crime rates will increase.||I don’t want.|
|They use up the resources.||What good would they bring when they leave and run away from their own country?|
|They are savages and damage things.||Their population is too high.|
|We are afraid.||The war in their country has ended.|
|They do not belong here.||I don’t like them.|
|They are a burden to our economy.||Our future is in danger.|
|Our country is full, I don’t want any more of them.||We have become second class citizens in our own country.|
|It is not good, they cause conflicts.||They disturb peace in the society.|
|They are privileged.||Economy has collapsed because of them.|
|They make the country unsafe.||We have become refugees in our own country.|
|Their population is increasing, measures should be taken.||They do not adjust.|
|They disturb us.||They disrupt the order in the society.|
|Social structure is damaged.||We’ve had enough. They are more precious for the government than us.|
|They are dirty and aggressive.||They are fickle.|
|We have given enough to them.||We, ourselves are hungry.|
|Old people, children and women should be allowed, the others shouldn’t.||They are not welcome anymore. We have more Syrians in Turkey than there are in Syria. They invade our country.|
|They will cause trouble in the future.||They are traitors. They will also be traitors here.|
|I hate them. They are very comfortable here.||Are we supposed to look after them while our own people are starving?|
|They should stay in their own country and fight there.||Perverts are coming here. They should stop coming.|
|They fight all the time.||The government should first look after their own citizens.|
|They see us as enemies.||We’ve had enough of them, we hate it.|
|They damage the social structure. They cannot adapt; they commit crimes.||Those with whom we share our bread with make fun of us.|
|The country has no doors anymore.||They do illegal work.|
|ISIS terrorists are everywhere in the country; we have got the terrorist ones.||Most of those who are allowed in the country are ISIS members, they will cause trouble in the future.|
|I don’t believe they are refugees; they use Turkey as a stepping stone for better opportunities. They want to go to Europe from here.||Those who serve AKP politics are brought into the country. Those who behead people started to cause trouble for us.|
|They have invaded the entire country.||They are involved in all kinds of crimes; they use and sell drugs.|
|They invade our country. They breed like rabbits.||They take away jobs from our young people.|
|They should not be allowed to come here anymore. We are little Syria now, enough.||They disturb us. They are very comfortable here. They do not act like guests in the country.|
|They are not welcome anymore, they are disturbing the peace. They are like mafia.||There are too many refugees. For our safety. For our young generation.|
As mentioned above, not all respondents have such an attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers. On the contrary, respondents who believe that they should be allowed to come and settle in Turkey gave humanitarian principles, empathy and right based approach as their rationale for their belief. As shown in Table 2, some of the respondents believe that refugees and asylum seekers should be granted permits by saying that “this could happen to us” and “we should show empathy”, and others report that this is a religious and humanitarian responsibility. Respondents who told that human life is more important than everything, and taking refuge is a basic right and people have the right to live wherever they want, have a right based approach to this need of refugees and asylum seekers.
|Table 2. Short answers of the respondents to the question asking why refugees and asylum seekers should be allowed to come and settle in Turkey.|
|Educated refugees can come.||Basic right to live.|
|They come from a neighbour country.||The world belongs to everyone.|
|Every person has the right to migrate and move.||They should be allowed to be in a peaceful environment.|
|People should be able to go wherever they want.||People should be able to live wherever they want to live.|
|No one should be forced to live in a war zone.||They should not live in a country where their life is under threat.|
|They are victims of war.||We should support innocent people.|
|We could have been in their place, we should empathize with them.||They need this.|
|Geneva Convention.||We cannot close our borders.|
|It is in our religion.||For humanity.|
|Because this is a human right.||We cannot leave them in a war country; innocent people are dying.|
|They need us.||We cannot leave them to die.|
|For universal values.||Because of human values.|
|I feel pity for them, we can be like them in the future.||Should be given until the war is over.|
|We believe in the same religion.||They are treated badly.|
|Old people, children and women should be allowed, the others shouldn’t.||Because my conscious says so.|
|War is not something they choose. We cannot leave them to die.||Human life is more valuable than anything.|
|Muslim refugees should be allowed because we believe in the same religion.||For humanity, so that innocent civilians won’t die.|
|So that they live without any life threatening events.||Our religion orders us to own and look after victims.|
|For human dignity.||We have to have them for the sake of humanity; this is our country’s mission.|
According to the above chart, Kurdish generation Z respondents who live in Izmir (22.5%) and Istanbul (34.5%) have a more positive opinion about granting residence permits to refugees and asylum seekers compared to the respondents from other cities. The highest percentages of people who have a negative opinion are from Van (84.6%) and Şırnak (65.3%). As detailed in the discussion section, the fact that Izmir and Istanbul receive high number of people from other cities and countries and therefore have a demographic and cultural variety and personal experiences of Kurdish people who are also considered as migrants might have played a role in the empathy and understanding shown by some of the respondents for the refugees and asylum seekers. On the other hand this negative attitude in Van and Şırnak towards refugees and asylum seekers can be explained by the effect of anti-refugee movement in the general public on the Kurdish population and lack of programs and policies by the Kurdish political movement, which can contribute to reducing such racist attitudes and perceptions or lack of mechanisms to implement such programs and policies (Duman, 2022).
Female respondents (28.5%) support allowing refugees and asylum seekers settle in Turkey more than male respondents (19.2%) and the percentage of male respondents (57.9%) who support the idea that people coming to Turkey because of forced or voluntary migration should not be allowed to settle in Turkey is higher than that of the female respondents (40.6%). The reason behind such an attitude of female and male respondents could be that the local society considers refugees and asylum seekers as rivals for access to already limited sources and there are people in the social media who associates refugees and asylum seekers with “rape, abuse and harassment” cases. As discussed in the discussion section, local society blames the entire community of refugees and asylum seekers, labels them as “rapists, abusers and bullies” which target women’s safety and shows racist and discriminatory attitude towards them and these might have affected these results.
The group with the most negative approach to refugees and asylum seekers settling in Turkey consists of people who are middle school graduates or lower (65.9%) and the group with the most positive approach consists of people who have bachelor’s degree or higher (43.3%).The findings also show that more than half of the respondents with high school degree have negative (55.8%) and one fifth have positive attitude (19.2%) and the remaining one fourth are not sure whether they should be allowed to have residence permit (25%). The possibility of acquiring information about the reasons and outcomes of the civil war in the region from a variety of sources increases with increasing education level, and increased awareness about why and how a multi-cultural society can be possible with increased education level could have played a role in these findings.
Finally, when a comparison is done about residence permit according to how respondents feel about religion; the percentage of the respondents who support residence permit for refugees and asylum seekers is higher for those who does not belong to a religion (47.2%) than those who belong to a religion (19.3%); contrary to this, the percentage of those objecting to residence permit for refugees and asylum seekers is higher for those who belong to a religion (57.1%) compared to those who do not (45.1%). These findings are important to show that the ensar-muhacir reference used frequently for Syrian refugees by AKP party does not resonate among the Kurdish generation Z who report to believe in Islam.
2-Impact on the economy
Fifty nine point two percent of the respondents who answered to the question “Would it be generally bad or good for the Turkish economy if people with low socioeconomic status and/or coming from conflict zones are allowed to settle in Turkey as refugees or asylum seekers?” believe that this would be bad or very bad and 6% believed that this would be good or very good and the remaining 34.8% were not sure what the outcome would be. When the reason for this is asked, an important percentage of the respondents answer that economy is getting worse, asylum seekers and refugees increase unemployment rates, work as cheap labour, become a burden and they are no use to the country. Some of them answered by repeating “false facts” which are frequently told especially about Syrian refugees (“everything is free for them”, “they have all the rights, they are paid salaries, healthcare is free”, “they don’t pay taxes” etc.). Although this shows that 40% of the respondents answering this question do not have an attitude that directly blames refugees in this respect, this can be an indicator that respondents are affected by conventional media and social media channels and anti-refugee statements and propaganda of politicians. The reasons why 60% of this ethnic group whose members have experienced similar problems have such a negative attitude are discussed in the discussion section.
|Table 3. Short answers of the respondents to the question asking why refugees and asylum seekers will have a negative impact on the Turkish economy.|
|They damage the economy.||Unemployment rates will increase.|
|They use up the resources.||They consume a lot.|
|When there is too much supply in the labour market, salaries will drop.||They are everywhere, they send their money abroad.|
|The economy is already bad.||They are literally squatters in the country.|
|The economy is already bad, and now we take care of them.||We have spent too much money for them.|
|We pay for everything for them.||They earn money without doing anything.|
|They a burden to us, they cost us.||Unemployment rates will increase and we will experience unpleasant incidents.|
|They are beggars; they are no use for the development of the country.||The economy is bad, we cannot have refugees.|
|Everything is free for them.||Turkey is already in a bad state.|
|They are granted all the rights; they are paid salaries, healthcare is free.||Social separation, unstable employment, cultural conflicts.|
|They work cheap and without insurance.||There are already too many people in Turkey.|
|The country’s resources are spent for them. They have the rights that we do not have as citizens.||The real citizens of the country are unemployed because of cheap labour.|
|They are in every job, they work cheap, they are the reason why I lost my job.||They are taking over the economy; if all of them leave their jobs, production will stop.|
|We take care of them; we don’t eat so that we can feed them.||Having foreigners in a country that is not governed well will make things worse.|
|They don’t pay taxes, they work illegally.||They work off the books, they work in bad jobs.|
When we look at the answers according to the cities the respondents lived in, close to half of the respondents in Istanbul and majority of the respondents in other cities (Diyarbakır 60.1%; Van 80.4%; Şırnak 66%; İzmir 67.4%) believe that refugees and asylum seekers will have a negative impact on the country’s economy. Almost half of the respondents in Istanbul (47.8%) report that they are not sure about the impact of refugees and asylum seekers on the economy. A mega city that has received both internal and external migration throughout its history and allowed people with different ethnical and religious origins to live together despite all difficulties and obstacles, Istanbul is different from all other cities. This may have somewhat softened the attitude of respondents’ living in Istanbul towards refugees and asylum seekers.
The results show that there is no significant difference between male and female respondents and majority of the people in both groups (men 59.9%, women 54.2%) believe that refugees and asylum seekers will have a negative impact on the country’s economy. Nevertheless, approximately one third of both groups report that they do not know how this impact will manifest itself.
A similar attitude is also seen when respondents are compared according to their education level. The most negative attitude is seen in the respondents with middle school or lower degrees (63.6%), followed by similar percentage in respondents with bachelor/master degrees (58.4%) and high school graduates (58.2%) Also in this variable, approximately one third of the respondents report that they do not know how refugees and asylum seekers will affect the country’s economy (middle school and lower graduates 30.2%, high school 36.3%, bachelor’s/master’s degree 33.9%). Decreasing negative attitude with increasing education level is similar to the attitudes of some respondents towards accepting refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey and this can be related to the possibility that they research and check the claims by accessing to different information sources.
Approximately half of the respondents with monthly salaries between 1001-2000 TL and 2001-3000 TL (47.8%) and majority of the respondents in other income groups (0-1000 TL 65.3%, 3001-4000 TL 61.9%, more than 4000 TL 63.6%) report that they believe refugees and asylum seekers will have a negative impact on the country’s economy. The percentage of those who were not sure how this impact will occur varies between 28 to 47% depending on the income level. Therefore no clear positive or negative relationship between the income levels and attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers of the respondents can be found.
In summary, gender, education level and income level of the respondents and the city they live in do not cause any significant difference in the impact level they believe the refugees and asylum seekers will have on the country’s economy. The main factors that play a role here are neo-liberal economy policies of AKP government which is not based on sustainability (Özdemir, 2020) and this government’s war policies and military spendings to solve problems in the country and in the Middle East especially after 2015 (World Bank, 2022), and economic difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (OECD, 2021; Çakmaklı et.al., 2021) at best make it difficult for the respondents to guess the impact of the refugees and asylum seekers on the Turkish economy. Furthermore respondents are mostly HDP supporter (Spectrum House, 2022) and the fact that HDP does not/cannot develop and implement any policy about refugee and asylum seeker rights, to solve refugees’ problems and live with the Kurdish society albeit temporarily may have played a role as well. Trustees appointed to the municipalities that HDP won in the elections, pressure on members of parliament and politicians of HDP and discriminatory attitude of almost all of the institutions towards HDP also have played a role in here. Because these factors significantly limit HDP’s political activities.
“According to the 1951 Geneva Convention signed also by Turkey, refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. More than half of the respondents (52%) gave the answers “they should be returned” or “they should definitely be returned” to the question “Do you think refugees/asylum seekers meeting this definition in Turkey (Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, Somalis etc.) should be returned to their countries despite the convention?”. While 22% gave the answers “they should not be returned” or “they should never be returned”, the remaining 26% report that they are not sure. This shows that the respondents rather have a negative attitude about refugees staying in Turkey and not being returned to their countries. Almost half of the respondents (48%) did not have a negative attitude about repatriation of refugees and asylum seekers which represents a significant difference compared to the general attitude of the young generation in Turkey (KAS, 2022) .
When we compare the answers of the respondents based on the city they live in, the biggest support were from respondents from Van (77%), Şırnak (59.2%), and Izmir (53.3%) it was around 45% among the respondents from Diyarbakır and Istanbul. Approximately one third of the respondents from Istanbul (31.5%) and one fifth of the respondents from Diyarbakır (18.8%) and Izmir (23%) support the idea that refugees should not be returned to their countries. As with other variables, respondents from Istanbul giving answers different than those living in other cities can be related with the multicultural structure of Istanbul and personal migration experience of Kurdish generation Z living in Istanbul. Because respondents living in Istanbul have a higher possibility of meeting people coming to the city both through internal and external migration, building relationships with and sharing spaces (workplace, education institutions, social contexts etc.) and understanding the conditions they have both in Turkey and in their own country. This may have resulted in respondents giving more support to the idea that refugees should not be returned to their countries.
The percentage of respondents who support the idea that refugees should be returned was higher in men (56.3%) than in women (47.4), an opposite picture was found about the support for the idea that refugees should not be returned. In other words when compared with male respondents (16.6%), a higher percentage of female respondents (27.4%) believed that refugees should not be returned.
When respondents are compared according to their education level, the highest percentage of respondents who support the idea that refugees should be returned is the respondents with middle school or lower education (65.3%) and as the education level rises, support for repatriation decreases (high school 53.9% and bachelor’s/master’s 34.3%). A similar result is also found in the support for not sending refugees back. Approximately half of the respondents with bachelor/master’s degree (46.7%) believe that refugees should not be returned to their countries, the percentage of respondents who support this idea is one fifth among the respondents with high school degree (17.2%) and one tenth among respondents who have middle school or lower education (8.7%).As with other variables, with rising education level, the respondents’ negative attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers decreases. The reason for this could be that they are better aware of refugees and asylum seekers’ conditions in Turkey and the war and difficult safety and socioeconomic conditions in their countries from a variety of sources which allows them to have a different perspective. This might have helped these respondents to develop awareness so that they are not a part of the widespread anti-refugee propaganda in Turkey.
More than half of the respondents who report to believe in a religion (54.2%) supported the idea that refugees should be returned to their home countries, this percentage is around 44.5% for those who do not belong to a religion. This is the opposite in those who believed ‘they should not be returned’. While the percentage of respondents who do not belong to a religion and report that refugees “should not be returned” is 35.8%, this percentage is 17% for those who belong to a religion.
Granting citizenship to refugees and asylum seekers is one of the subjects that are discussed often and objected both in the political arena and by the public. The question, “According to the UNHCR statistics, a majority of refugees and asylum seekers who settle in other countries due to forced migration remain in these countries. Should citizenship be granted to all the refugees in Turkey under temporary protection and international protection?” asked to the respondents in this study allows us to understand their opinions about which refugees and asylum seekers and under what conditions can be granted citizenship. Forty four percent of the respondents believe that none of the refugees or asylum seekers should be granted citizenship. Thirteen percent of the respondents report that only educated refugees and asylum seekers, 11% report that only refugees and asylum seekers who can make investments in the country and 10% report that all refugees and asylum seekers may be granted citizenship. The remaining 22% report that they were not sure whether refugees and asylum seekers should be granted citizenship or which group should be granted citizenship. As shown below, different from the other questions, we checked the answers to this question taking into consideration discrimination factor in addition to the city and gender factors.
When we look at the distribution of the answers according to the cities, the highest percentage of respondents who oppose to granting citizenship to refugees and asylum seekers are from Van (76.7%) and Şırnak (60.4%). These two cities are followed by Izmir (48.9%), Istanbul (38.9%) and Diyarbakır (28.3%). A similar trend is also observed for other conditions.
Almost half of the male respondents (48.4%) report that “none of them should be granted citizenship”, this percentage is a little lower among female respondents (41%). The difference here is reflected on the support for granting citizenship to all refugees and asylum seekers. Accordingly, 13.6% of female respondents supported granting citizenship to all refugees and asylum seekers while only 5.8% of the male respondents supported this. In the remaining factors, the difference between male and female respondents is not as big as two factors discussed above.
The percentage of respondents who report that there is discrimination in Turkey and that they have been subjected to discrimination objected to granting citizenship to refugees and asylum seekers is less than the percentage of respondents who report that there is no discrimination in Turkey and that they have not been subjected to discrimination (42.7% vs. 49.7% and 39.2% vs. 53.1%) and supported the idea that all of them should be granted citizenship more than the other group (11.7% vs. 4.2% and 13.4% vs. 3.3%).
Forty percent of the respondents answer that they can be close friends with refugees and asylum seekers, 39.4% answer that they can be neighbours, 35% answer that they can be colleagues, 18.5% answered that they can be roommates, 18.3% answer that they can have a romantic relationship, 16.6% answer that they can marry a refugee or asylum seekers and 16.6% answer that they can have all these kinds of relationships. A higher percentage and number of respondents from Istanbul answer that they can have a social relationship with refugees and asylum seekers when compared to the respondents from other cities. A much lower percentage of the respondents from Van believe that they can have a social relationship with asylum seekers and refugees compared to the respondents from other cities (except for close friendship). These results are positive as they show that respondents are likely to have social relationships with refugees and asylum seekers in different forms and contexts however on the other hand this represents a contradiction since they do not support the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and they believe that they should be returned to their home countries. This shows that a significant percentage of respondents believe that refugees and asylum seekers should be returned to their countries or sent to a third country but that they also are willing to build social relationships with them at different levels during their ‘temporary’ stay in the country. This approach is most apparent especially among the respondents from Istanbul.
When we look at the gender variable, the percentage of male respondents who answered that they can have social relationships with refugees and asylum seekers is higher than female respondents. Additionally, the percentage of female respondents who answered that they can be neighbours and roommates with and marry refugees and asylum seekers is higher than male respondents whereas the percentage of male respondents who answered that they can be close friends, have a romantic relationship and be colleagues is higher than female respondents.
We also investigated factors such as respondents’ satisfaction in life and in the city they live, institutional trust, socioeconomic insecurity, sociopolitical concerns, perception of personal and institutional discrimination, interest in politics and satisfaction in democracy in Turkey. Although almost all of these factors are positively correlated with positive answers about refugees and asylum seekers, it should be noted that this correlation is not statistically significant. However a positive attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers in any area (for example residence permit or citizenship) also has a statistically significant positive correlation with other areas.
While respondents’ levels of satisfaction in life, institutional trust and satisfaction with democracy have a positive correlation (when one increases, the other one also increases), the same variables have a negative correlation with sociopolitical concerns and personal and institutional discrimination (when one increases, the other one decreases).While satisfaction in life, institutional trust and satisfaction with democracy are negatively correlated with social relationships with refugees and asylum seekers, a similar relationship is found with satisfaction with democracy and repatriation. In other words, respondents’ satisfaction in life, institutional trust and satisfaction in democracy increase, their willingness to have social intimacy with refugees and asylum seekers decreases. As the respondents’ sociopolitical concern level, personal and institutional discrimination perception and interest in politics increase, their support for allowing refugees and asylum seekers settle in Turkey and impact on the Turkish economy, support for not sending them back and willingness to have social intimacy with them increase. Finally, allowing refugees and asylum seekers settle in Turkey and their impact on the Turkish economy, support for not sending them back and willingness to have social intimacy are positively correlated. As support for one increases or a positive attitude towards one of them develops, support for and attitudes towards the others are also affected positively.
Findings of this study conducted in Diyarbakır, Van, Şırnak, Izmir and Istanbul give us the following important insights about the perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish Generation Z towards refugees and asylum seekers.
First of all, approximately half of the respondents object to refugees and asylum seekers coming and settling in Turkey, and similar percentage of respondents support repatriation of refugees to their home countries. The respondents’ answers to the question ‘why’ do not only explain why this request should not be allowed but also reveals their hostile, dehumanizing attitudes bordering on hate speech towards refugees and asylum seekers. This is also frequently seen in other experiences and in the literature in the world. In other words, taken into account their social identities (Tajfel, 1978), refugees and asylum seekers are considered by the citizens of the country they settle in as individuals or groups that threaten wealth, peace, economy of the country, cause unemployment and limit their living spaces and therefore become targets for exclusion and sometimes mass hate and rage (Judd and Park, 2005;Schneider, 2008).When faced with such an excluding, hostile attitude sociocultural, economic, individual differences and human capacities of refugees and asylum seekers are mostly ignored and they are treated as a homogenous group and negative attitudes and perceptions are generalized (Simon 1992).It is possible to consider this as the reason why approximately half of the Kurdish generation Z included in our study believe that refugees and asylum seekers should not be allowed to come and settle in Turkey.
On the other hand, approximately one in every five respondents answered that refugees and asylum seekers should be allowed to come and settle in Turkey which shows that there are different attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers in the Kurdish Generation Z and these are based on religious, humane and right based approach. In this sense, a significant percentage of the Kurdish generation Z believes that taking refuge is a legitimate right that should be supported despite widespread anti-refugee environment in the country, which is important and noteworthy.
Respondents from Izmir and Istanbul showed more support for allowing refugees and asylum seekers to come and settle in Turkey more than the respondents in other cities and it will not be wrong to say that internal migration experience, socioeconomic development level and an environment in which people from different cultures living together in these cities may have played a role in this. Contrary to this, this support is especially low in Şırnak and Van. Van is a city where refugees and asylum seekers especially from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan live temporarily and therefore social interaction between the local community and refugees and asylum seekers is limited and Şırnak is a border town that is not socioculturally very diverse and has been witnessing violent conflicts since 1990s, especially those in North East Syria/Rojava in the last decade and these could be a reason for low support in these cities. Additionally both of the cities are less developed compared to other cities, especially Istanbul and Izmir (Acar et. al., 2019);
A higher percentage of female respondents support allowing refugees and asylum seekers to settle in Turkey compared to male respondents which contradicts with the findings of the other studies done in Turkey and in Europe (Erdoğan, 2022; Tümtaş, 2020; Ponce, 2017; Chieppa, 2021).Female respondents included in this study support the rights of refugees and asylum seekers more and one of the reasons for this is that Kurdish women are one of the most oppressed groups in a nationalist and capitalist socioeconomic and patriarchal order so with their personal experience they can relate with the injustice, unlawfulness, oppression and exclusion and outcomes of these faced by refugees and asylum seekers. Recently 82 organizations and 635 women in Turkey told, in a statement they made, “targeting refugees and asylum seekers is one of the methods used by the government to divert the anger built of with the existing socio-economic problems in every part of the society and to camouflage government’s responsibility” and object to rationalizing racial discourse against refugees with “safety of women” in Turkey (Duvar, 2022). Men see refugees and asylum seekers as members of an ‘external group’ which they should compete for access to limited sources especially in the labor market and this is one of the main reasons why they have more negative attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers (Mayda, 2006).
Support for allowing refugees and asylum seekers to come and settle in Turkey is higher among respondents with higher education levels compared to those with lower education. This may be due to several reasons. Respondents who have a higher education level are more likely to be informed about the living conditions of the refugees and asylum seekers in their home countries and in Turkey because they use multiple information sources; to have interacted with people with different ethnical, religious and sociocultural background during their long education and learned that being a refugee and asylum seeker is a basic human right in their educational and social environment. Furthermore, existing studies underline that citizens with high level of education do not see refugees and asylum seekers as rivals, which can play a role here (Kunovich, 2004; Semyonov et. al., 2006). Therefore members of the Kurdish Generation Z with a high education level is likely to see refugees and asylum seekers as a non-risk group for them because they may think that they do not have the capital to compete with them and therefore do not see them as a threat.
Additionally low support for refugees and asylum seekers to come and settle in Turkey among respondents who are religious demonstrates that ensar-muhacir reference used by the government does not resonate with the Kurdish generation Z, unlike the general public (Erdoğan, 2017). Considering the fact that a significant percentage of the respondents report that they believe in Islam and majority of the refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey come from Islamic countries, it is possible to conclude that believing in the same religion does not result in a positive attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers in the Kurdish generation Z. The study demonstrates that more than half of the respondents think that refugees should be returned to their countries despite knowing that there are life threatening conditions in these countries.
When we look at the difference between cities, respondents from Istanbul, Izmir and Diyarbakır respectively give significantly more support for not sending refugees back compared to the respondents from Van and Şırnak. Istanbul and Izmir are mega cities that already have a high number of refugees and asylum seekers and a majority of refugees in Diyarbakır come from North and East Syria, from Rojava and the city plays an important role in Kurdish political-social rights demands and activism and these can explain higher support in these cities.
Similar to the results for residence permit, support for sending refugees back is lower among female respondents compared to male respondents and support for not sending refugees back is higher. Women and children are the most affected groups in a war/conflict zone although they are not involved in these conflicts (Kangas et. al., 2014; Daşlı et. al., 2016) and refugees are rivals for men who dominate the labor market (TÜİK 2022) and refugees fleeing to Turkey are described as “cowards or traitors “ (Duman, 2021a), which all could have affected this result.
Despite Geneva Convention which states that refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom, a significant percentage of the respondents give varying levels of support to repatriation of refugees which shows that the Kurdish generation Z deny refugees’ access to rights (Arendt, 1968).
Similar to the questions about residence permit, less educated respondents give more support for sending refugees back, support for sending refugees is lower in respondents with higher education. This is also explained by the fact that higher education allows better access to a variety of information sources and have different perspectives and a likelihood to discuss the subject with a wider angle.
Additionally, those who do not belong to a religion give more support for sending refugees back compared to those who belong to a religion. This also shows that ‘religious fellowship’ is not an important motivation for the Kurdish generation Z members who believe in a religion.
A significant percentage of the respondents believe that it would be generally bad for the Turkish economy if people with low socioeconomic status and/or coming from conflict zones are allowed to settle in Turkey as refugees or asylum seekers. There is no significant difference among respondents according to gender, education level and income level. When the respondents are asked why they think this way, majority of the respondents answer that they will be a burden for the economy on top of the existing economic crisis, increase unemployment, and competition since refugees and asylum seekers are used as cheap labour. These statements are related with the economic crisis and unemployment in two ways.
First; the labour system which exploits refugees and asylum seekers and forces them to work as cheap labour causes a competition between the members of the local community and refuges and asylum seekers (Tümtaş, 2020). In other words, just like any person who needs to work to make a living in Turkey, every refugee and asylum seeker has to work however what is responsible for this unfair competition is the conditions and employers that force them to work in precarious jobs, with lower pays and for longer hours. There is a risk for the country’s citizens when refugees and asylum seekers are employed under these conditions and when this is normalized because capital owners and employers impose the same conditions also for the citizens and those who do not accept these are excluded from the labour force. Second, there is an undeniable economic crisis in Turkey and citizens do not know how to deal with this crisis but the real culprit here are not the refugees and asylum seekers. The government’s ‘debt based speculative growth model which has proven to be unsustainable’ (Erinç Yeldan and Ünüvar, 2016:11), ‘anti-west discourse which makes cooperation with international financial institutions more difficult causing a negative effect on inflation and value of the Turkish Lira’ (Zengin and Ongur, 2019) and populist policies based on us vs. them which hollow out institutional infrastructure and decision making mechanisms are some of the main reasons of the current economic crisis. In addition to the above, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Turkish government’s direct support in the conflicts between Syria, Yemen, Libya and Azerbaijan – Armenia and war budget and oppression policies on the democratic demands of different groups based on threat-safety reasons have increased the burden of the economic crisis.
During these developments and although financial support especially for Syrian refugees is provided by international funds (Mülteciler Derneği, 2021), government representatives’ statements that “the government spent USD 30 billion for Syrians” (AA, 2017) and opposition parties’ claims that the spendings are much higher than this (Independent Türkçe, 2021; Cumhuriyet, 2022) are one of the main factors that cause a negative attitude towards refugees and asylum seekers in the public in Turkey. One of the main concerns of the public in this environment where there is uncertainty and no accountability is that the budget which they believe should be reserved for them is reserved ‘for those that are not from here’ (Duman and Gümüşbaş, 2022). However neither the government tells where, how and when this total is spent as claimed nor the opposition parties accept that the budget spent for Syrians comes from international funds and share this information with the public.
Regarding granting citizenship; when respondents are compared according to city and gender, similar results are observed. Respondents from Diyarbakır, Istanbul and Izmir support the idea of granting citizenship to refugees and asylum seekers more than the respondents from Van and Şırnak and female respondents support this idea more than male respondents. The reason for this, as told above, can be too many common negative experiences the respondents living in these cities and female respondents have with refugees and asylum seekers. These negative experiences include discrimination, exclusion and feeling oppressed and additionally Istanbul and Izmir being two cities that have been receiving internal and external migration could also have an effect.
Regarding discrimination factor; respondents who claim that there is discrimination in Turkey and/or they belong to a group that is being discriminated support granting citizenship to refugees and asylum seekers slightly more than the respondents who claim that there is no discrimination in Turkey and/or they do not belong to a group that is being discriminated. Similarly as sociopolitical concern level and interest in politics increase among respondents, their support for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers also increases. One of the reasons for this result is that respondents who have been discriminated and/or felt the discrimination of their group or have experienced similar sociopolitical concerns with refugees and asylum seeker can show empathy towards refugees and asylum seekers who are discriminated in various ways, at different times and in different contexts (Mealy and Stephan, 2010).
Regarding social relationships; approximately one fourth of the respondents answer that they can be friends, neighbours and colleagues with refugees and asylum seekers; although we could not verify whether they already had such a relationship, this is very important for communication and interaction among groups. Another point worth mentioning is that as social intimacy level increases, less number of respondents report that they would have such a relationship. Almost fifty percent decrease in percentages in willingness to have a romantic relationship, to marry and be roommates is an indication of this.
A significant percentage of the respondents do not have a right based approach, which suggests a worrying trend. The present study presents findings similar to previous studies and research on the Generation Z in Turkey and respondents in this study see asylum seekers and respondents as a risk or threat for employment, peace and wealth of the society in the country and explain it with false facts, which all show that adjectives used for the Generation Z such as “freedom-lover”, and “creative” do not apply when it comes to asylum seekers and refugees.
Finally when we look at the results in general, approximately 20-30% of the respondents give the answer “I am not sure” to the questions about refugees and asylum seekers. This percentage is at a critical level for such a young population. The areas covered by this study concern this age group because if refugees and asylum seekers are going to stay in the country, they will see and meet them in all areas of life in the future. This can be one of the consequences of manipulation and disinformation in the public caused by anti-refugee propaganda and policies and discussions in the media and politics. We at Spectrum House, showed that this is strongly related with the fact that respondents are not interested in politics in general and members of this generation have a “depolitical” attitude in our report about Kurdish generation Z. As shown in this report, it can be concluded that as interest in politics increase, respect for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and willingness to have relations with them also increases.
Based on the findings and discussions about the Kurdish generation Z’s perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers; we believe that the following list of recommendations should be considered by policy-makers and by the public affected by these policies.
- Representatives of the government bodies and opposition parties should provide correct information to the public about why refugees and asylum seekers come to Turkey, under what conditions they live and work, their legal status and rights.
- Local and international nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian aid organizations and local governments should organize sociocultural and sports activities which bring refugees and asylum seekers together with the local communities, especially with the young generation. These organizations and governments should build sustainable socioeconomic support mechanisms that will facilitate communication and interactions between individuals and groups.
- Educational institutions where young generations spend an important part of their day should provide courses and lessons on the meaning of asylum seeker and refugee, on who and for what reasons migrate to or seek asylum in Turkey and in other countries, what socioeconomic, cultural and political consequences of these movements are and why right based approach is important and why this approach should be used in every area of life.
- Similarly, a comprehensive campaign should be started on social media platforms to provide information about right based approach and why this is necessary for the rights and demands of refugees, asylum seekers and the general public.
- HDP party should develop policies in line with their core goals and objectives to prevent racist, hostile and discriminatory perceptions and attitudes of the Kurdish generation Z a majority of whom claim that they will vote for HDP. HDP should implement the principles, goals and policies that the party has determined for the refugees and asylum seekers abroad also for the refugees and asylum seekers in 3Kurdish cities and in the big cities where Kurdish population is high.
- HDP which describes itself as “a political party where all suppressed and exploited; excluded and ignored peoples and communities, women, workers, workingmen, disabled people, LGBT individuals, refugees, those whose living spaces are destroyed, intellectuals, writers, artists and scientists and all powers fighting for these people get together to eliminate all kinds of oppression, exploitation and discrimination and live with dignity aiming to build a democratic people’s government” should ensure an organization that includes refugees and asylum seekers to protect their rights, respect their demands and allow them to live with dignity in the Kurdish Society; protect and promote the rights of refugees and asylum seekers by having direct communication and contact with the public and voters in addition to congress meeting and social media platforms.
- Parties and actors outside the government should abandon their anti-refugee propaganda that encourages violence and includes hate language for the purpose of getting more votes in the coming elections and ask for answers from the government which makes life difficult for refugees and asylum seekers for their own benefit. Both the government and the opposition parties should ensure that they comply with the requirements of international laws and conventions and respect basic human rights in their policies that aim to eliminate the adverse conditions that make things difficult for refugees, asylum seekers and Turkish citizens.
- Panels, symposium, conferences and workshops with experts on the field should be organized, actions should be taken to create awareness in many areas from the main problems of refugees and asylum seekers such as accommodation, facilitation of integration policies, to services in mother language and cultural and social peace.
- Local governments’ means and tools should be used and more authority and financial sources should be transferred to local governments to find solutions to problems related with refugees and asylum seekers. Experiences of local governments and local communities in the nations of the world that have gone through similar processes should be studied and used as references.
- Refugees and asylum seekers should be included in the process to listen to and understand their stories and experiences to take effective and conclusive actions in matters related with refugees and asylum seekers.
- Public awareness should be raised and public should be informed about hate speech, hostility, marginalization and xenophobia; deterrent legal measures should be taken to prevent manipulation and disinformation.
- Experiences that showcase comparisons that emphasize universal characteristics of rights and legal status should be discussed. Actions should be taken to develop empathy and to prevent hostile policies and dehumanization by using the experiences of communities and groups that have had similar migration experiences.
- Actions that prevent manipulations of discriminatory and racist groups in matters related with refugees and asylum seekers should be taken, refugees and asylum seekers should not be considered as groups that disturb the public but as communities that we can live together and in peace.
- All members of the public including the Kurdish population and members of the Kurdish generation Z should be provided correct information on refugees and migration, public awareness should be promoted on basic rights and freedoms taking into consideration their reasonable demands and concerns.
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1. KONDA’s research in 2020 cannot be accessed online however the interview of Bekir Ağırdır, Managing Director of KONDA can be found by clicking on the following link: https://www.krttv.com.tr/gundem/konda-dan-z-kusagi-arastirmasi-h39704.html
2. Similarly, no online access is available to the research conducted by Yöneylem Araştırma in 2022 but the results of this research can be found on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NlNf1TnukY&ab_channel=Medyascope
3. The party constitution of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) dated 2014 can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://hdp.org.tr/tr/parti-tuzugu/10/