A ten-year-old Syrian schoolgirl has called on the Turkish government to stop deporting Syrians amid a crackdown that has seen thousands sent back to the war-ravaged country.
In July the Turkish government set a four-week deadline for Syrians without approval to return or face removal amid rising hostility at the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in the country.
In June a Twitter hashtag telling Syrians to get out of Turkey was trending.
In a bid to stop them being forced to leave what is now their home, Shatha Sabra appealed to the Turkish government on a video posted on YouTube and circulated on social media.
“The Turkish state peace be upon you. If we speak logically, we are Syrian children in Turkish schools, today we don’t know how to read and write Arabic, we are only fluent in Turkish. Why did you teach us Turkish if you would then tell us every day to go to Syria?”
In 2016 the Turkish government, along with the European Union, phased out temporary education centres which taught classes in Arabic and moved Syrian children into mainstream schools offering intensive Turkish classes in a bid to help them integrate.
Shatha registered and was immediately noticed by her teacher because of how quickly she picked up the language, according to the Syrian Observer. She started up a YouTube channel to teach her classmates and other Syrian children the language and became known as the “translator”.
Shatha fled Syria in 2014 with her family and originally settled in Lebanon before moving on to Turkey. She made another popular video along with her father calling for an end to fighting between the Syrians and the Turks.
On her video published last week, which has received thousands of views, she said: “For me and the half million Syrian children, what is our future? We lost our future. We are telling the Turkish state, our future is in your hands. We cannot return to Syria. We just want to be safe. We are human.”
Eight years after the start of the war over five million Syrians have been forced into exile, six million have been internally displaced and an estimated 400,000 have been killed.
Earlier this year NPR reported that thousands of Syrians who have returned home have been imprisoned and tortured.