Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait to cross the border. (Photo by AP)
Human Rights Watch says Turkish border guards are continuing to shoot and beat Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey
, calling on the country to investigate abuses.
Turkish border guards in March and April used excessive force against Syrians and a smuggler trying to reach Turkey, killing five people, including a child, and injuring 14 others, the group said on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch, which interviewed victims, witnesses, and Syrian locals said eight of the injured refugees were shot while the other six were severely assaulted.
“While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them,” said Gerry Simpson, a senior HRW refugee researcher.
“Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” Simpson added.
The rights group also urged Ankara to abide by international laws and stop attacking refugees or banning them from crossing the borders.
The New-York based watchdog also called on Turkish authorities to investigate the excessive use of force by the Turkish border guards.
Turkey has banned Syrians from crossing into the country since at least mid-August 2015.
The report said the Turkish border guards even fired at Syrians living near Turkey’s borders as they approached to recover victims at the border wall after the shootings and assaults.
Turkey and the European Union sealed a controversial deal intended to stem the flow of refugees from Syria
and other troubled countries to Europe via Turkey in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara.
“The EU shouldn’t just stand by and watch as Turkey uses live ammunition and rifle butts to stem the refugee flow,” said Simpson.
“EU officials should recognize that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go,” he said.