Syrians holding Turkish temporary protection ID card complain about its large size

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Enab Baladi – Zeinab Masri

Hiba tries to hide his Kimlik, or temporary protection ID card, in Turkey during university exams due to its large size, contrary to recognized specifications of personal ID cards, which arouses the curiosity of observers and entices them to find out about it.

Nearly two years after Syrians began to resort to Turkey to escape the regime’s escalating violence as the revolution began in Syria, Turkish authorities have begun granting a temporary protection identity card known Syrians in Turkey as “Kimlik”, which is the Turkish term for personal identity. menu.

This followed the approval and ratification by the Turkish parliament of the Foreigners and International Protection Law on April 4, 2013, which provided numerous legal safeguards for Syrian protection seekers in Turkey.

“Laptop Size ID”

Hiba, Syrian student residing in Istanbul since 2018 (Enab Baladi hide his full name for fear of being deported), says Enab Baladi that the review observers, who change periodically, would recognize that she is a Syrian national whenever they saw her personal identity card of an unusual size different from the usual card size.

The young woman recalls an incident during one of the exams when her Kimlik caught the attention of the observer who questioned her about it, only to find out that she is Syrian, which shocked her. incited her to shout “racist” slurs at Syrians taking jobs and school. seats that are for the Turks.

“It’s the size of a notebook,” Hiba added sarcastically in reference to the relatively tall Kimlik. “They would ask me about it when I take an exam, and they would be shocked at its size once they find out it’s a personal ID card.”

Several metamorphoses

There were many changes in the size, specifications and information recorded on the Kimlik, as it was an uncoloured piece of paper the size of usual ID cards of internationally recognized dimensions, wrapped in thermoplastic and bearing the name “Yabancı Tanıtma Belgesi” (Identification Document for Foreigners).

The first version of the Kimlik displayed a barcode and holder number beginning with the digits 98, a number that Turkish regulations do not recognize, prompting authorities to later convert it to 99, a number assigned to holders of foreign residence permits in Turkey.

After the updates of the first version, the name was changed to “Geçici Koruma Kimlik Belgesi” (temporary protection identity document) and the personal number which is considered as the national identification number was changed to 99 , and the card itself was changed to larger dimensions as well, while a piece of black and white paper printed and laminated with plastic remained.

At the end of 2016, the Directorate General for Migration Management implemented a project to update the data of Syrians residing in Turkey under temporary protection and updated information obtained during the initial registration carried out by the police or the responsible for migration management in the Turkish provinces.

This project, supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ended in early 2019 with the participation and coordination of migration service officials across Turkey, according to the official UNHCR website.

UNHCR has called on those who still hold a black and white temporary protection identity card (Kimlik) to renew it in order to continue to access services and assistance available in Turkey.

The latest version of the Kimlik was a yellow card, 13.5 centimeters long and 9.5 centimeters wide, with a plastic case bearing a watermark and the wet signature of the official overseeing its issuance, and a circle-shaped heat seal with a crescent and a star in the middle surrounded by numbers, to prevent counterfeiting.

Alternatives: Driving certificate

According to a survey conducted by Enab Baladi with a group of Syrian cardholders in Turkey.

“A prayer rug, the size of a notebook, doesn’t fit in any wallet, it needs a special bag, can wear out quickly, it’s a book, not an ID card.” In these terms, respondents described their suffering with the size of the Kimlik.

People who took part in the survey said they did not carry the card because of its large size. Instead, they carry a photo of it on the mobile phone to show on demand.

Others explained that they had resorted to obtaining a driver’s certificate so that they could do without it and carry the certificate easily and conveniently. The Turkish authorities allow the use of the new driver’s certificate (with an electronic chip) instead of the personal identity document during certain official transactions.

The large size of the Kimlik prompted the Syrians to copy it and keep a miniature one, as Abdel Sattar (whose full name Enab Baladi did not reveal), a photographer working in the city of Antakya and owner of a shop that many Syrians frequented to make copies of their identity cards.

In a telephone conversation with Enab BaladiAbdel Sattar indicated that the question of the size of the Kimlik must be highlighted because of the difficulties it causes in the daily proceedings of Syrians in Turkey, in the hope of changing and reducing its size to the usual dimensions that fit in the pockets or wallets.

The latest version of the Kimlik was printed on special paper similar to that used to print passports or banknotes, unlike before when it was printed on white paper. In addition, it now bears distinctive markings.

With the new markings, the copy of the card is now considered a counterfeit, and the Turkish authorities reject copied cards and demand to carry the original. Copying and counterfeiting the Kimlik was very easy when it was printed in black ink on white paper, the photographer added.

Abdel Sattar pointed out that these maps are prone to damage from folding due to their large size and the need for Syrians to carry them constantly. Additionally, these cards are encased in a thermoplastic casing that wears out after a period of repeated use due to friction.

Change that did not include Syrians maps

On March 14, 2016, the Turkish Interior Ministry launched the Identity Card of the Republic of Turkey (TCKK) project which will be implemented in 10 Turkish states and later released to the rest of the states from 2 January 2017, according to a report published on its website.

The aim of the project was to change the Turkish citizens’ ID card called (Nüfus Cüzdanı), which is somewhat similar to temporary protection ID cards in shape and size, to the new type of personal ID cards with international specifications and an electronic chip.

According to said report, the new ID card is designed according to international standards and is the size of a credit card for easy carrying. It is made of high strength material suitable for long term use.

However, this project only aimed to modify personal ID cards of Turkish citizens and did not include temporary protection ID cards or residence permits for foreigners.

National biometric card with standard specifications

This card bears the national identification number and the card number and is equipped with an electronic chip. It remains valid for ten years.

The dimensions of personal identity cards are the same as those of bank cards, residence cards or other official documents, with a width of 8.6 centimeters, a length of 5.4 centimeters and a thickness of 0. 67 millimeters.

According to the latest statistics from the Turkish Migration Management Presidency, 3,762,686 Syrians reside in Turkey with the Temporary Protection Identity Card.

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