Circassians in Syria who have chosen not to take sides in the more than two-year-long civil war in the country were brought to Turkey last week from Beirut, where they had taken refuge. Today’s Zaman spoke to them at a refugee camp in Nizip, a district of Gaziantep province. The accounts of the Circassians show how the violence in Syria has brought great suffering.
The group of Circassians, 180 people out of which 27 are children, were flown to Turkey by private plane thanks to the help of the Solidarity Committee of World Circassians (DÇDK). “We have been left without a homeland and hope. People in Syria are not even valued as much as a chicken, say Ekrem and Semaze Harun, who arrived in Turkey with their three children. The Circassians say they had to leave Syria because they chose to remain impartial. They first took shelter in Beirut. Ekrem Harun said he was selling medical supplies in Syria but had to leave everything behind when the war broke out. He said they only took their pajamas and passports with them. “We don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Our only plan for now is to survive,” Ekrem Harun said.
“In Syria, no one has any assurance about their life, property or honor. We had no other option but to flee. We were left without a homeland and hope. When we were desperate, Turkey opened its arms to us,” the couple said. According to Ekrem Harun, Syria is being dragged into a sectarian war. “There are around 100,000 Circassians in the country, but they live quite far from each other. When the war began, we chose to be impartial, but we were caught between two fires [one from the regime, one from opposition forces]. The most dangerous thing in Syria for now is to remain impartial. Everyone is our enemy,” he said.
Genetically, the Adyghe population has shared ancestry mainly with European population. There is little influence of Central and South Asian populations:
“Senere fortalte min søster at melkemennene våre var kaukasere, spesifikt cirkassere som i Syria blir kalt al-chirkaas. Disse flyttet ned til midtøsten, ved hjelp av det ottomanske riket, fra nordvest kaukasus i 1860 og 1870-årene etter å ha bli forfulgt av russerne. Cirkasserne beriker det syriske bybildet. Hadde dere sett ansiktet mitt i bussen da en ung mann steg på, snakket trillende på syrisk dialekt med flammende lyserødt hår og grønne øyne.I det sekundet brydde jeg meg ikke om sosial etikette, istedet stirret jeg perpleks på skapningen foran meg som så mer ut som en karikatur av en skotte enn en syrer.”