Photos which circulated on social media showing Turkish abuses of Syrian refugees have put the reputation of the country and its authorities to test, particularly with regard to the border guards' treatment of Syrians crossing into Turkish territory.
The photographs, which were examined by Zaman al-Wasl, were further evidence of the increasing frequency of violations by Turkish border guards and the diversity of their methods.
The photographs did not document beatings or torture, as with a recent video circulated days ago, but instead was intended to humiliate its victims. Several of these photographs showed a number of men standing next to a military vehicle, wearing women’s underwear.
Zaman al-Wasl attempted to verify the credibility of these images and attempted to trace photos to their sources through Turkish social media pages. It seems that most of these pages and their commenters agreed on the identity of the men in the photographs, although the description of the men and the circumstances of their arrest differed.
All of the sources said the photos are of people who crossed from Syria to Turkish territory, and that those who forced them to wear women's clothing and took the pictures were Turkish soldiers. Although two narratives appeared; one claiming the men in distress were simply refugees who had crossed into Turkey in search of safety, and another story described the men as terrorists who deserved their deserved punishment by the Turkish army, who foiled their infiltration.
People and pages who stressed that the men were not refugees provided their accounts in detail, explaining that the incident took place on the border near the Turkish area of Yildagi, and that the border guards ordered the men to open their bags. When the guards found women's clothing inside, they forced the men to wear the clothes and then photographed them.
Upon inspection some of the pictures reveal that the underwear the men were forced to wear was entirely new, with stickers still attached.
Whatever the correct narrative, all stories claim Syrians are victim to abuse perpetrated by the Turkish army. The Turkish government must be tough and transparent in its response to these cases, especially after Turkish officials warned against parties that want to sow discord between the Turks and Syrians.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.