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Xenophobia Grows In Turkey: Ten Of Thousands Of Deportations And Human Rights Violations

Economic crisis and the xenophobic narratives of media outlets and political parties — primarily among those linked to the opposition — have spurred anti-immigrant sentiment in Turkey. With next March’s municipal elections in mind, which will determine the next administration of major cities like Istanbul and Ankara, current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strengthened immigration laws, and authorized massive detentions that have captured and deported tens of thousands of foreigners. These operations, according to denouncements from lawyers and activists, fail to respect basic human rights.

“We are frightened. Many of us stay locked in our homes, but to pay rent you must go out and fight. The problem is, if you leave your home, you don’t know if you will return,” says a Nigerian pastor, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation. The majority of his peers in Turkey, he explains, earn their living through buying products that they send to their home country for resale. But every time they go to the markets, the resale vendors run the risk of being stopped at one of the new mobile police checkpoints. These are part of the new interior minister Ali Yerlikaya’s plan to combat irregular immigration, which began this summer in Istanbul and is being extended to Turkey’s other major cities. “There are checkpoints in the markets, in the bus and metro stations. And the arrests are massive. There are so many Nigerians in the deportation camps. Many of them are legal residents, but they can’t renew their visas, or they are not being approved,” says the pastor.

According to statistics from the interior minister, since mid-June, 112,000 undocumented foreigners have been detained, of which 48,000 have been deported. Lawyers and activists consulted for this article stress that among the detained are asylum-seeking individuals, people who are in the process of renewing their residency permits and even those whose documentation is in order. In addition to those who have been deported, a large number of foreigners have left Turkey in recent months in the face of ever-growing obstacles to renewing immigration permits. “Thanks to our exhaustive immigration laws — and this is really good news —120,531 foreigners whose visas or residency permits had expired have left our country, knowing that we were going to detain them,” celebrated Yerlikaya on October 12.

“These operations to combat irregular immigration focus on effective in-country apprehension and the establishment of an efficient and expeditious deportation mechanism,” a source from the interior minister of Turkey tells this newspaper. The objective, they affirm, is to “reduce the pressure of irregular immigration” and “create a deterrent effect.”

Turkey is now home to 1.13 million foreigners with residency permits, 225,000 less than at the beginning of the year, according to official numbers. The total number of people under international protection (Iraqis, Afghanis, Ukrainians) has also fallen by 20,000 to 287,000, and the number of Syrian refugees — who enjoy special status — has gone from 3.75 million to 3.25 in just a year and a half.

“What happened to those half million Syrians who have disappeared?,” asks Syrian Turkish activist Taha Elgazi. The answer, he says, is that some are still in the country, living without proper documentation, others have emigrated irregularly to Europe and others have returned to Syria, “forced by circumstances” and the “government’s pressures” such as laws that bar them from living in certain neighborhoods or provinces. “Discrimination and racism have increased recently, especially against Syrians. There have also been violent attacks, and people have become frightened,” he reports.

More than 50 Latin Americans detained or deported

“It’s crazy,” complains a Latin American diplomat. According to data collected by this newspaper through diplomatic sources, more than 50 Latin Americans have been detained and deported — or are in the process of being deported — including several Venezuelan students with ministry of education scholarships who were removed despite embassy attempts to stop the process. “Recently, they detained the father-in-law of one citizen and deported him. Ultimately, he decided to leave the country because he was afraid that they would deport him as well,” explains another diplomat. In one well-known case, two Moroccan tourists who had legally entered Turkey were detained last August, and were deported to northern Syria because Turkish authorities thought they were from that country.

“The Turkish interior minister has clearly indicated that his intention is for Turkey to no longer be a transitory country [for migrants] because it often turns into a destination country,” explains the EU ambassador in Ankara, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, in an interview for EL PAÍS. He explains that the EU is maintaining contact with Turkish authorities to “update” their 2016 anti-immigration agreement.

This pact, which turned Ankara into the guardian of the EU’s southeast border, was able to reduce the arrivals of migrants and refugees via Turkey to European territory, sending them instead towards the central Mediterranean. It also turned Turkey into the country with the world’s highest number of refugees (3.5 million). Still, that number barely exceeds 7% of the country’s population, even including its estimated two million irregular migrants.

However, immigration has been a focal point in Turkey’s public discourse in recent years. The media has played a role in fostering an escalating sense of xenophobia, publishing articles that attribute economic issues, the rise in internet scams, and soaring housing prices to foreigners, despite their relatively low representation (only 3% to 4% of buyers, in contrast to over 15% in Spain).

Rosa Martínez and her boyfriend, Adrián Cuadrado, have their paperwork in order. Both of them — their names have been changed for fear of repercussions — arrived to Turkey from Cuba four years ago in hopes of “working and having a family in peace, comfortably.” “We took on debt to leave Cuba and have worked here in aesthetic clinics [the flourishing Turkish industry of hair implants and other plastic surgeries that employs numerous migrant workers as translators.] After three years of working to pay off our debts, when we began to live, the problems started for migrants,” Martínez laments.

In February, she says, they moved to a new apartment. But its owner began to harass Martínez and after she repeatedly refused his advances, he reported her boyfriend to the police. “We locked ourselves up at home until the authorities came. Even though we showed them that the report was false, they took my boyfriend away. The thing is, they’re using any reason at all to take foreigners to a detention center,” Martínez says. Ebru Bese, an immigration lawyer, confirms that he has encountered numerous cases in which any excuse was used, even reports and complaints with no evidence, to detain foreigners and revoke their residency status.

Over the next two and a half weeks, Adrián Cuadrado “disappeared.” No one knew where he was, no one could communicate with him, and the authorities did not offer any information as to his case. By the time the Cuban was able to get in contact with his partner, he had spent time in two detention centers: one close to Istanbul and another in Kayseri, 780 kilometers away.

“We don’t know where some people are,” explains Irfan Güler, a lawyer who specializes in this kind of case. “They usually bring them to Tuzla [a municipality in the outskirts of Istanbul], and from there to eastern cities like Erzurum or Agri [more than 1,200 kilometers away.] It is a deliberate policy to hinder the work of lawyers, and to prevent us from appealing deportation decisions in time.”

Centers financed by the EU

In Turkey there are 28 deportation centers spread throughout the country, 14 of them built and another seven renovated with money from the EU in accordance with the 2016 anti-immigration agreement. The institutions operate as prisons, where foreigners are imprisoned awaiting their removal from the country, and inmates “have less rights than a common criminal,” according to lawyer Gülden Sönmez. “If a Turkish citizen commits a crime, they can be held in police custody for a maximum of 48 hours, and then they must appear before a judge. But if you’re from another country and you have committed no crime, you can be locked up for months, without access to translators or lawyers.”

“They haven’t killed or robbed anyone, and they are in a prison where they are mistreated, beaten, and humiliated like dogs. They spit on them, they make them sleep next to feces. My partner was in a cell with more than 15 other prisoners, two to a mattress on the floor and with only one toilet for everyone in the cell,” says Rosa Martínez. Attorney Ebru Bese of Ankara bar association confirms that the institution has received reports of terrible conditions in the deportation centers, including mistreatment, torture, rapes and suicides. “But we have not been allowed access to investigate, there is so much opacity,” he says.

The EU ambassador acknowledges being aware of the allegations regarding the detention centers, but counters that “the EU has financed training courses for migration management capacity building and so that asylum processes are compatible with international legislation and human rights,” and that “the centers are run by Turkish authorities.” The source in the interior ministry, for their part, denies that such abuses take place and maintains that in the centers, “irregular immigrants are housed with human dignity” and “their basic needs are satisfied.” “Our principal objective in reducing the time that irregular immigrants spend in the center is to guarantee speedy deportation procedures,” they add.

After being locked up for four months—during which his residency permit expired and he was unable to renew it—and seeing that neither his lawyers’ actions nor the efforts of the Cuban embassy had any effect, Adrián Cuadrado decided to sign the form for voluntary deportation. In mid-October, he was sent to the Istanbul airport to board a plane to his country (that had to be paid for by his partner.) The lawyers and activists contacted for this article believe that the prolonged confinement and treatment experienced by detained foreigners constitute a strategy aimed at getting them to sign deportation documents. “They are forced to sign the voluntary deportation form, and those who refuse are subjected to mistreatment,” says Bese.

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Kyiv investigates allegations Russian forces shot surrendering Ukrainian soldiers | International

Ukrainian officials on Sunday launched an investigation into allegations that Russian forces killed surrendering Ukrainian soldiers — a war crime if confirmed — after grainy footage on social media appeared to show two uniformed men being shot at close range after emerging from a dugout.

The video shows the servicemen, one of them with his hands up, walking out at gunpoint and lying down on the ground before a group of Russian troops appears to open fire. It was not immediately possible to verify the video’s authenticity or the circumstances in which it was filmed, and it was unclear when the incident took place.

The Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office on Sunday launched a criminal investigation, hours after the Ukrainian military’s press office said in an online statement that the footage is genuine.

“The video shows a group in Russian uniforms shooting, at point-blank range, two unarmed servicemen in the uniform of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who were surrendering,” the prosecutor’s office said in a Telegram update on Sunday.

The Russian defense ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. As of Sunday evening, there were no public statements from the Russian government or military on the video.

Kyiv, its Western allies and international human rights organizations have repeatedly accused Moscow of breaching international humanitarian law since it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Kremlin denies these allegations.

The video first appeared Saturday on DeepState, a popular Ukrainian Telegram channel covering the war. The post claimed the footage came from the front lines near Avdiivka, a Ukrainian holdout in the country’s part-occupied east, where there has been fierce fighting in recent weeks.

The General Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday said that the alleged killing took place in the Pokrovsk district, which includes Avdiivka and surrounding areas.

“It’s clear from the video that the Ukrainian servicemen are taking the necessary steps that show they are surrendering,” Ukraine’s human rights chief, Dmytro Lubinets, said hours after the footage emerged on Saturday.

In a statement posted to Telegram, Lubinets described the incident as “yet another glaring example of Russia’s violations of international humanitarian law.”

Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military grouping that is fighting near Avdiivka, was cited by Ukrainian media as saying the video was “glaring confirmation” of Moscow’s disrespect for the laws of war.

In March, footage of a man exclaiming “Glory to Ukraine” before being gunned down in a wooded area sparked national outcry in Ukraine, as senior officials alleged that he was an unarmed prisoner of war killed by Russian soldiers.

Last summer, Kyiv and Moscow also traded blame for a shelling attack on a prison in occupied eastern Ukraine that killed dozens of Ukrainian POWs. Both sides claimed the assault on the facility in Olenivka was aimed at covering up atrocities, with Ukrainian officials charging captive soldiers had been tortured and executed there.

The U.N.’s human rights chief in July rejected Moscow’s claim that a rocket strike had caused the blast.

Also on Sunday, Ukraine’s energy ministry reported that close to 1,000 towns and villages suffered power outages that day, with hundreds of settlements in the west battered by wintry weather and others affected by ongoing fighting.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, late on Saturday assessed that military operations have slowed down all along the frontline in Ukraine due to poor weather, with mud bogging down tracked vehicles and making it hard for lighter equipment and infantry to advance.

Even so, Shtupun, of Ukraine’s Tavria military command that oversees the stretch of frontline near Avdiivka, said in a separate statement Sunday that Russian infantry attacks had intensified in the area over the past day. In a Telegram post, he insisted Ukrainian troops were “holding firm” in Avdiivka and another nearby town.

In the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, at least two people died and seven more were wounded after Russian forces on Sunday shelled a high-rise apartment block and other civilian buildings, the head of the city’s military administration said in a series of Telegram posts.

One of the updates by Roman Mrochko featured a blurred photo of what he said was the body of a deceased civilian, apparently lying on a dirt road or in a yard outside the high-rise. The photo’s authenticity could not be independently verified.

Regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin separately reported on Sunday that Russian shelling that day damaged two of Kherson’s hospitals. He did not immediately reference any casualties.

Earlier in the day, a 78-year-old civilian died in a village northeast of Kherson after Russian shells slammed into his garage, according to a Telegram update by the regional Ukrainian military administration.

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Open Source Software (OSS) Supply Chain, Security Risks And Countermeasures

OSS Security Risks And Countermeasures

The software development landscape increasingly hinges on open source components, significantly aiding continuous integration, DevOps practices, and daily updates. Last year, Synopsys discovered that 97% of codebases in 2022 incorporated open source, with specific sectors like computer hardware, cybersecurity, energy, and the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching 100% OSS integration.

While leveraging open source enhances efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and developer productivity, it inadvertently paves a path for threat actors seeking to exploit the software supply chain. Enterprises often lack visibility into their software contents due to complex involvement from multiple sources, raising concerns highlighted in VMware’s report last year. Issues include reliance on communities to patch vulnerabilities and associated security risks.

Raza Qadri, founder of Vibertron Technologies, emphasizes OSS’s pivotal role in critical infrastructure but underscores the shock experienced by developers and executives regarding their applications’ OSS contribution. Notably, Qadri cites that 95% of vulnerabilities surface in “transitive main dependencies,” indirectly added open source packages.

Qadri also acknowledges developers’ long-standing use of open source. However, recent years have witnessed heightened awareness, not just among developers but also among attackers. Malware attacks targeting the software supply chain have surged, as demonstrated in significant breaches like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and the Log4j exploit.

Log4j’s widespread use exemplifies the consolidation of risk linked to extensively employed components. This popular Java-based logging tool’s vulnerabilities showcase the systemic dependency on widely used software components, posing significant threats if exploited by attackers.

Moreover, injection of malware into repositories like GitHub, PyPI, and NPM has emerged as a growing threat. Cybercriminals generate malicious versions of popular code to deceive developers, exploiting vulnerabilities when components are downloaded, often without the developers’ knowledge.

Despite OSS’s security risks, its transparency and visibility compared to commercial software offer certain advantages. Qadri points out the swift response to Log4j vulnerabilities as an example, highlighting OSS’s collaborative nature.

Efforts to fortify software supply chain security are underway, buoyed by multi-vendor frameworks, vulnerability tracking tools, and cybersecurity products. However, additional steps, such as enforcing recalls for defective OSS components and implementing component-level firewalls akin to packet-level firewalls, are necessary to fortify defenses and mitigate malicious attacks.

Qadri underscores the need for a holistic approach involving software bills of materials (SBOMs) coupled with firewall-like capabilities to ensure a comprehensive understanding of software contents and preemptive measures against malicious threats.

As the software supply chain faces ongoing vulnerabilities and attacks, concerted efforts are imperative to bolster security measures, safeguard against threats, and fortify the foundational aspects of open source components.

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The Implications Of Controlling High-Level Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

By Clint Bailey | ‘Voice of EU’

The notion of artificial intelligence surpassing humanity has long been a topic of discussion, and recent advancements in programs have reignited concerns. But can we truly control super-intelligence? A closer examination by scientists reveals that the answer is highly unlikely.

Unraveling The Challenge:

Controlling a super-intelligence that surpasses human comprehension necessitates the ability to simulate and analyze its behavior. However, if we are unable to comprehend it, creating such a simulation becomes an impossible task. This lack of understanding hinders our ability to establish rules, such as “cause no harm to humans,” as we cannot anticipate the scenarios that an AI might generate.

The Complexity Of Super-Intelligence:

Super-intelligence presents a distinct challenge compared to conventional robot ethics. Its multifaceted nature allows it to mobilize diverse resources, potentially pursuing objectives that are incomprehensible and uncontrollable to humans. This fundamental disparity further complicates the task of governing and setting limits on super-intelligent systems.

Drawing Insights From The Halting Problem:

Alan Turing’s halting problem, introduced in 1936, provides insights into the limitations of predicting program outcomes. While we can determine halting behavior for specific programs, there is no universal method capable of evaluating every potential program ever written. In the realm of artificial super-intelligence, which could theoretically store all possible computer programs in its memory simultaneously, the challenge of containment intensifies.

The Uncontainable Dilemma:

When attempting to prevent super-intelligence from causing harm, the unpredictability of outcomes poses a significant challenge. Determining whether a program will reach a conclusion or continue indefinitely becomes mathematically impossible for all scenarios. This renders traditional containment algorithms unusable and raises concerns about the reliability of teaching AI ethics to prevent catastrophic consequences.

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The Limitation Conundrum:

An alternative approach suggested by some is to limit the capabilities of super-intelligence, such as restricting its access to certain parts of the internet or networks. However, this raises questions about the purpose of creating super-intelligence if its potential is artificially curtailed. The argument arises: if we do not intend to use it to tackle challenges beyond human capabilities, why create it in the first place?


Urgent Reflection – The Direction Of Artificial Intelligence:

As we push forward with artificial intelligence, we must confront the possibility of a super-intelligence beyond our control. Its incomprehensibility makes it difficult to discern its arrival, emphasizing the need for critical introspection regarding the path we are treading. Prominent figures in the tech industry, such as Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, have even called for a pause in AI experiments to evaluate safety and potential risks to society.

The potential consequences of controlling high-level artificial super-intelligence are far-reaching and demand meticulous consideration. As we strive for progress, we must strike a balance between pushing the boundaries of technology and ensuring responsible development. Only through thorough exploration and understanding can we ensure that AI systems benefit humanity while effectively managing their risks.

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