3 min read  | Interviews, Politics

Eyewitness to the Rayhaniya bombing: ‘They thought we planned the explosions’


May 16, 2013

May 16, 2013

Ahmad Farzat, 44, originally comes from a-Rastan. Before the uprising, he was an employee at the Transport Administration in Homs. He fled to Turkey last year, and describes to Ahmed Kwider the Rayhaniya bombing as he witnessed it and its implications for his life as a Syrian refugee.

I was at a mobile store in Rayhaniya at 2 pm when we heard the sound of a big blast. A woman from Aleppo told me: “It seems the regime has bombed the area with missiles.” Then we heard the sound of the second blast. I called my relative to ask whether he was close to the location. He told me two car bombs had exploded, and that the Turkish police were trying to defuse an explosive in a third car, which it was, according to my relative.

My friend and I immediately headed for the blast location, but we weren’t able to get there because there was a checkpoint and the entire area was closed. When the ambulances transferred all the wounded, there was a state of chaos and rage among the Turks towards Syrians. They thought we planned the explosion. Most Syrians in Rayhaniya are refugees who fled from war to face their miserable destiny of asylum.

Many Turks reacted to this event by running after Syrians and hitting them. They broke the cars parked near their residences. Only then I knew we wouldn’t be able to live alongside them as long as they blame us for these explosions and the bad economy since we sought refuge in their area.

Despite the security encirclement around Rayhaniya, my family and I were able to get out with the help of some Turkish friends. We went through the checkpoint, and then we headed for Antakya. A Turkish friend helped me rent a place from a woman, where we stayed.

Unfortunately, there was tension in Antakya too because of what people had been seeing on news channels and what they heard from their relatives about these explosions. Today, Turks who hate Syrians, will organize an anti-Syrian rally at 4 pm. That was what my relative, who speaks Turkish, told me.

I can hear the sound of the owner of the house as I speak to you. She wants to kick us out of the house just because we’re Syrians. It seems we’ll either go back to Syria, where we came from, or face our destiny in Turkey and keep moving from one place to another, until we figure out a solution for our little residence problem, and Syria’s big problem.

Here’s the reality: My family and I live without food, bread or even cooking gas. We suffer difficult living conditions. The most difficult part is the fear we have about the Turkish citizens’ bloodthirsty reactions. For instance, [a few hours] after I reached home, my 16-year-old daughter went out to buy milk for her infant brother. Some Turkish men threatened to kill her if they saw her in the street again. That was what a salesman, who sympathizes with us, told me. When my daughter came back, her eyes were filled with tears.

[Turkish Prime Minister Recip] Erdogan tells the media that they “will give Syrians an eight-year residence and that they are guests; anyone who harms them will be fined and jailed…etc.” This is just talk. The truth is that the Turkish government has no control, and won’t be able to do anything for Syrians inside Syria, or outside it either.

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