Fractioning the refugee label – a case study of Syrian refugees in Turkey
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This research analyzes Turkey‟s national asylum policies to determine if they result in the fractioning of the refugee label – as theorized by Roger Zetter. Fractioning of the refugee label occurs when states utilize legal and bureaucratic measures that are based on arbitrary or discriminatory requisites to restrict and exclude selected individuals from claiming unconditional refugee status within their territory. Refugees who suffer the consequences of disjunctive labels are unable to obtain legal status in the host country, unable to permanently settle or integrate in host society, and cannot avail the full gamut of rights accorded to them by the 1951 Refugee Convention – as in the case of Syrian refugees in Turkey. The question then arises as to why Turkey continues to host the largest refugee population in the world since 2013, even when it does not legally recognize Syrians as refugees and has no obligation towards them under the 1951 Refugee Convention. One finding is that Turkey‟s approach towards the Syrian refugee crisis has been somewhat myopic since the beginning. This is evident from Turkish government‟s changing stances on Syrian „guests‟ and the impromptu laws that have been adopted since 2011. A second finding is that Turkey continues to host Syrian refugees for opportunistic foreign policy reasons. This is evident from Turkey‟s recent bout of „refugee rentierism‟ – as theorized by Gerasimos Tsourapas – where Turkey is using its geo-strategic location and its large refugee population as a resource to extract strategic rent from the European Union through blackmail.