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Syrians flee oppressive regime, seek haven in Turkey

by Jorge Hernandez on June 9, 2011

Since the beginning of the year, protesters in a number of Middle Eastern countries have challenged the traditional government in place, often struggling for radical changes against regimes that try to silence the opposition. Egypt and Tunisia successfully overthrew the long-time dictators that ruled them, while Libya, Yemen and Syria are still in conflict.

While Syria has often fallen to the background during the past months, it is also one of the countries where the violations of human rights have been most egregious. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay went so far as to claim that the Syrian government was attempting to "bludgeon the population into submission," pointing to the torture and killing of a 13-year-old boy as proof that security forces have gotten out of control.

Syria has become so volatile that many are trying to flee to Turkey, which is currently accepting all refugees, according to CBS. Approximately 1,600 Syrians have made it across the border. Turkish ambulances are on stand-by to treat those who have been harmed while trying to escape the country.

"We hope that Syria softens its stance toward civilians as soon as possible and makes the steps it is taking for reforms more convincing for civilians, for a transformation," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday during a news conference that was nationally televised in Turkey.

One Turkish official told BBC that the number of Syrians crossing the border has risen sharply over the past few days.

"The circumstances there are very difficult," one man told the news provider. "They are killing children, women, and now they are planning to invade."

Most countries have openly condemned Syria's reaction to the activists, calling for an end to violence and requesting access for humanitarian workers.  

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