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It’s been more than 30 years since "Midnight Express" hit the big-time, turning the term “Turkish prison” into a euphemism for the darkest, Dante-esque realms of hell, and winning two Academy Awards in the process.
After the release and the rave reviews, one of the screenwriters — Oliver Stone — said that the script did not portray the Turks accurately. Even Billy Hayes, the American who was jailed for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey and wrote a book about his experiences, complained that the movie depicts "all Turks as monsters." And certainly all Turks are not and neither are most. Still, Turkey wouldn't be in anybody's list of the 100 most gentle penal systems in the world.
And as it turns out, while much has changed in Turkey, if you are a refugee you would still do well to take refuge somewhere — anywhere — but Turkey.
An annual survey of the world's refugees published on Wednesday by the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reports on the horror facing the world’s vast refugee populations, so often invisible.
On Turkey the report noted the practice of incarcerating and deporting refugees.
“It tried to deport into Iraq 42 Iraqis and 18 Syrians and Iranians. The Iraq authorities accepted only their countrymen, and when Turkish officials forced the others to try to swim to Iraq, four drowned.”
For more information, read the report here.