[ 30. Nov 2009 ]

Meanwhile at the border or on the way: daily refoulement and deportations

Turkish police denies right to seek asylum and proceeds with deportation preparations. - This is maybe one story of so many, but we still want to share it with you.


Afghan refugee J. disappears at the beginning of November. His fiancé living in Germany, worried sick after not having had contact for three days, tries everything to find out what happened. She calls all kinds of organisations, including the Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Istanbul, which supports refugees in Turkey. Together they finally find out that J. and 19 other refugees from Iran and Afghanistan were arrested in Muş around 7th November. Although he wants to seek asylum, he is detained, while the police prepare his deportation.

His fiancé knows J. wants to seek asylum. 24 year old J. whose mother died, when he was born, is the only one left of his family. In 2000, he fled to Iran after his father was killed by the Taliban for refusing to collaborate. After 9 years in Iran, where he was constantly discriminated, he decided to move on to Turkey, his home country still being too dangerous for him. Even if the dangerous area J. originally comes from, well-known for drug production, is controlled by the new government today, the people who are responsible for his father's death and threatened him personally are still very powerful there.

Smugglers take him and 19 other refugees into Turkey. Only short time after crossing the border they are arrested by the police in Muş. The police don't take their applications for asylum seriously. They tell them that people from Iran don't have any chances to seek asylum anyway. J. emphasises that he is from Afghanistan. Two days after being taken into custody, he is taken into court. J. tells the court that he wants to seek asylum. The judge says his chances are 50-50%. He signs a paper thinking this is for his asylum application.

The detainees are nervous. The police tell them they will deport them. They take blood samples and threaten to cut their hair. They tell the refugees stories: they could fight for the Turkish military in Iraq for 2 years, get 100 000 Euros and a living permit for Turkey afterwards. Some accept. J. doesn't, he is determined to seek asylum. Meanwhile the UNHCR has found him. They call Muş police department. The police officer confirms that J. has been their detainee for a week, but says they were not aware of the fact that J. wanted to seek asylum. The UNHCR kindly requests them to check the information. And while the UNHCR waits, J. is beaten; his mobile phone is taken off him. He obviously had contact to the outside.

The police continue to deny his right to apply for asylum and proceed with their preparations for deportation. Although J. is not an Iranian citizen and has no papers at all, they take him and some of the other detainees to the border, without success. On the third day they have to return. The UNHCR calls again, they have started all administrative procedures, but the police say J. has signed a paper in which he accepts his deportation. There is nothing more for the UNHCR to do. The UNHCR has to trust its national partners. There is no way to check the existence or the authenticity of such a document, let alone under which conditions it was signed.

This was written on 25.11.2009 at 12.00. J. was deported to Kabul with other people from Afghanistan only 13 hours later. One day before Eid.

According to the UNHCR over 12.900 people officially applied for asylum in Turkey 2008. The prisons and detention centres are full and it is impossible to know how many people were legally and illegally deported.

No refoulement!
Stop deportation!
No detention centres anywhere!