Paydar about discrimination and how he deals with it
Paydar H. is a Kurd from Aleppo in Syria. After the bombing of the city in 2013, he fled to Istanbul via Afrin in Syria at the age of 24. He got married in 2015, has two children and works in an international organization as an interpreter. In this interview passage he talks about discrimination, legal disadvantages and the feeling to be seen as a ‘foreigner’ forever. He also talks about his strategies to deal with this.
There were incidences when I felt excluded; yes. First time I applied for the position of the CM Supervisor [Cultural Mediator Supervisor, a managerial position in his workplace] I was excluded. It was the first time I applied for another job in my current work, I was applying to be a supervisor for cultural mediators. I was discriminated because I was Syrian. I felt like the other person has a nationality that makes him gain the position over me, I sensed that from the managers, I know that the other people sense that as well. As I saw myself, I was the best candidate to take the position, but I didn’t take it because of that. […]
To have the temporary protection status, makes a big difference. Like, for me, I’m Syrian and even if I had the money, I cannot buy any house, any piece of land, so Syrians cannot have their own houses, own lands in Turkey by a regulation that Turkey made a long time ago and Syria made as well. I think that you might always be deported anytime in any moment if a policeman didn’t like you. If a policeman doesn’t like you, he will capture you, he will frame something for you and he will send you to Syria within 24 hours. […] It’s easy to be deported from Turkey. Especially in the past year it was easier for people to get captured and deported. We had such times witnessing, between the end of 2019 and the first part of 2020, a lot of people were deported from Istanbul to Syria. At that time people were afraid of getting out of home, being captured by police. Even if they had ID’s (ID card) on their hands, they feared but not me, I was going and coming to work. […]
There is a lot of stuff. You don’t feel yourself safe 100%, but if you gain the citizenship, it will be totally different. You will still have the people’s look. That look will not change, it will stay the same. Even if you want to go to rent a house, you say to the man, I want to rent the house. He judges your accent. He asks, where are you from? “I’m from Syria, but I’m Turkish. I have Turkish citizenship”. He will keep calling you “Syrian” (sarcastic laughter). But on the other side, you’ll be protected by the Turkish law and you will have the rights of citizenship. […]
[…] If you are out of your country, you are a Refugee. Even if you have a work permit, even if you are working there… If you are a foreigner, you are a Refugee. For me, you are a migrant. You are Outsider. In Turkey they say “yabancı.” “Sen yabancısın.” This word has a general meaning for me. In Germany they say “Auslander.” In Turkey they say “Yabancı.” So, wherever I go, I will remain Yabancı or Auslander. Even if I take the citizenship of that country. If you have a country, with a place that you call your country and if you have no ID from there, you are an “auslander”. It’s because of the situation in the world. It is not because of my idea. Because of the situation in the world, you have a passport that concludes you are Syrian, wherever you go, you are still a foreigner. You remain a foreigner as well even if you take the citizenship of another country. My aunt, she’s a German citizen, has been living there for 25 years but still they look at her as she is an Auslander. Her son was born there. No, he doesn’t get that same look there, because he was born there. Because I was born in Syria, I will remain an Auslander, a Yabancı wherever I go. But maybe my kids who were born here, they won’t feel that feeling no more.
Knowing good Turkish helps you a lot. Whenever I go to places, taking appointment is hard because you can’t take appointment, but when I go there, like whenever I speak Turkish to the people inside (officers) they treat me differently. If you don’t talk Turkish, the behavior changes. I know they treat some people in bad ways. Thank God, I didn’t get any bad treatment or bad situation that I can remember. […]
The people cannot insult you with you understanding them. The people can’t do you stuff while you do understand their language. When you understand what they are saying, you understand what they are trying to do. If you understand, you can stop them. So, they get afraid of your reactions, they afraid of misbehaving in front of you. So, they try to behave. On the other hand, I know there are some people doing bad stuff with other people that they cannot understand Turkish. I know it happens. I don’t say everybody in this country is a good person, there are the good and the bad people. […]
I always try to be ‘as the person who is in front of me’ as his mind with imaging another person to avoid having that conflict moments or that inconvenient moments with them. It’s like reverse psychology, you know that?
Paydar H. is a Kurd from Aleppo in Syria. After the bombing of the city in 2013, he fled with his brother to Turkey via Afrin in Syria at the age of 24 and reached Istanbul on May 15, 2013. After successfully finding an apartment in Istanbul, his parents and sister joined him. He got married in 2015, has two children and works in an international organization as an interpreter.
In this interview passage he talks about discrimination, legal disadvantages and the feeling to be seen as a ‘foreigner’ forever. He also talks about his strategies to deal with this.
This interview was conducted in English by Elif Yenigun for the We Refugees Archive in March 2021 via Zoom.