News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition Radio Station Broadcasts From Istanbul

Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in Syria, wait to enter Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, northern countryside of Aleppo, Feb. 5, 2014.
Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in Syria, wait to enter Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, northern countryside of Aleppo, Feb. 5, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Over a million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey.

Most have been housed in camps along the border, but growing numbers are now fleeing to cities like Istanbul, which is estimated to have as many as 200,000 refugees.  Others  are looking for work or trying to get to Europe.

But for others, Istanbul has become a center of resistance to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Turkish-based opposition radio stations being set up to broadcast into Syria.

Radio Al Kul broadcasts into Syria from atop a building in a commercial district of Istanbul. According to Obi Sukkar, Al Kul’s founder, the station's strictly uncensored and independent news reaches an audience of around 100,000 via a network of secret transmitters.

As Sukkar shows me around, he explains he fled Syria after his wife - a doctor - began fearing for her life when the regime found out she was treating opposition forces. Leaving with just a suitcase, they ended up in Istanbul, courtesy of the Turkish government’s open door policy for Syrian refugees.,

"In Turkey, the situation is really good because we have what we need to be treated as human beings, more than people feeling sympathy. We don’t need sympathy. We just need to live our lives normally," he said.

Sukkar's radio station is backed by wealthy Syrians, making his transition in Istanbul relatively easy. But for others, Istanbul has not been a seamless transition.

At a mosque in Istanbul’s Fatih district, local residents give out food and aid to Syrian refugees. Many of them, like Ayse and her two children, are struggling to survive.

"We fled Syria, after my brother was kidnapped by Islamic jihadists," she said. "The whole region has become to unsafe."

She says she did not want to go to the refugee camps. "Many say it's like prison - you cannot work, you cannot go out," she said.

She thought she might find work in Istanbul and maybe even get to Europe. "But everything is so expensive," she said.

In local parks and shopping districts, Syrians begging for money is an increasingly common sight.

Bulent Yildirim, head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity supported by Turkey's ruling AK Party, is critical of some of the refugees.

"If you see refugees in the street, you can call us and we will take them to the camps of the government," he said. "But they don’t want to go. For some of them, begging on the streets has become a habit."

Observers warn the growing number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, especially on the streets of the country’s main cities, is threatening to become a political embarrassment for the government.

The AK Party strongly back the Syrian opposition and predicted the Syrian regime would quickly collapse.

Kadri Gursel, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and al-Monitor website, says the growing number of refugees underlines a failed policy.

"The AKP foreign policy is a wreck, because Syria is soaking up financial resources," he said. "We have a huge refugee problem right now. There are nearly one million Syrians on our soil and we don’t know what we will do with them. Because this crisis can last years and years, maybe a decade more - we don’t know."

While Radio Al Kul primarily broadcasts to Syria, its founder says he is looking into broadcasting inside Turkey because of the growing number of Syrian refugees now living in the country.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
February 12, 2014 6:00 PM
Turkey has to expel from NATO and its application to join European Union should terminate .this country has not its tarnish history .they sponsor the massacre of Armenian. this country supported the rebel whom brought a lot of misery. this for the sake of Islam. for the sake of Islam , million refuge .for the sake of Islam ,the country is totally destroyed. For the sake of Islam many crime is committed by these rebel, woman is raped and they give them a fancy name .this name a sexual Jihad

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs