Date: Tues, 17 Sep 96 22:07:03
Subject: ACTION ALERT: Summary Expulsion of 21 Iranian asylum seekers in
September 6, 1996
Summary Expulsion of 21 Iranian asylum seekers in Turkey
Iranian Refugees' Alliance is appalled at reports of
summary expulsion of 21 Iranian asylum seekers, twenty
of whom are members of the persecuted Bahai community.
While Turkish authorities deny knowledge of the incident,
consistent violations of international refugee law by the
Turkish government, including previous unlawful expulsions,
as well as eye-witness reports all point to the fact that
the group were forcibly returned to Iran.
On August 6, 1996, 21 Iranians (8 men, 4 women and 9
children, the youngest of whom is 4 years old), approached
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
in Ankara to request asylum. UNHCR officials registered
their names and informed them of new regulations (Decision
Number 94/6169), which require asylum seekers to apply
within five days to the police in the city where they
entered the country. The asylum seekers were issued
documents by the UNHCR indicating their intention for
requesting asylum from the local Turkish police. They
boarded a chartered bus and arrived in Agri, the city
of their entrance, the next morning. However, they never
made it to the local UNHCR representative and to a
designated Hotel in Agri as they were instructed.
According to a report by Aktuel (a Turkish magazine),
the bus driver as well as hundreds of travelers and local
business persons witnessed that Turkish security forces
took the 21 Iranians in their vehicle a few hours after
their early morning arrival in Agri. The same source reports
that later that day, the same bus driver has seen the group
riding in a police vehicle towards Gurbulaka and another local
businessman, who did not want to be identified, has seen the
vehicle heading towards Maku.
Despite continuos inquiries, UNHCR officials say that they
have not even received an official acknowledgment of the
incident from the Turkish authorities. Although Turkish
authorities have refused to acknowledge the incident, in
a report dated 12 August, Aksam (a Turkish newspaper) have
reported that the Iranian authorities have confirmed the deportation.
Since November 1994, when new regulations were introduced, Iranian
asylum seekers have been in an extremely precarious situation in
Turkey. During 1995, UNHCR reported that 62 Iranians, recognized
by UNHCR as refugees or persons of concern, were subjected to
forcible return to Iran by the Turkish authorities. Due to lack
of monitoring procedures, neither UNHCR nor other human rights
organizations know the numbers of Iranians who have been deported
right after entry at the borders.
International human rights organizations have vehemently criticized
the five day rule imposed by Turkish authorities, who cite the failure
to register claims within five days of arrival in Turkey, as a cause
of deportation. The letter of the regulation includes other draconian
measures such as designating the police as the authority to register
and interview asylum seekers. It also denies asylum applicants legal
advice and representation, full and fair hearing, and meaningful appeal
of negative decisions.
Continuous breaches of international refugee law--which enjoins any
action in any manner whatsoever that returns people to territories
where their lives or freedom may be threatened-- by the Turkish
authorities, makes it hard not to believe that the twenty one
asylum seekers were not summarily expelled. Many commentators
in Turkey have expressed that these unlawful expulsions were
amicable gestures by Prime Minister Erbakan, head of the new
Islamist-led government, to pursue previous agreements on exchange
of dissidents, before his visit to Tehran.
Iranian Refugees Alliance condemns unlawful expulsion of the 21
Iranian asylum seekers and urges all concerned organizations to
protest to the Turkish authorities and call for immediate halt to
the forcible return of Iranian refugees.
You can write your letters to:
Mr. Necmettin Erbakan
[salutation: Dear Prime Minister]
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: 90-312-417 0476
Minister of Interior:
Mr Mehmet Agar
[Salutation: Dear Minister]
Ministry of Interior
Fax: 90 312 417 23 90
Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Mrs Tansu Ciller
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Fax: 90 312 419 1547
send copies to:
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Representative : Barry Rigby
UNHCR-Branch Office in Turkey
17 Abidin Daver Sokak Cankaya Ankara 06680 Turkey
Fax: (90 312)438 2702 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION, please CONTACT Iranian Refugees' Alliance.
| Iranian Refugees' Alliance, Inc.
| is a non-profit organization in the US assisting
| and advocating on behalf of Iranian refugees and
| asylum seekers.
| For more information, please contact us.
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