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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More