Target: Efkan Ala, Turkish Minister of the Interior
Goal: Secure medical treatment for recently released refugees and investigate the reasons for their initial detention
About 95 Syrian refugees were recently released by Turkish authorities, who had detained them for about two weeks. Their release comes amid reports of Turkey denying Syrian refugees access to the country. Sign the petition and remind Turkey of its obligations under both international and its own domestic laws.
The 95 refugees allowed to join their families in Turkey were at one point part of a much larger group–about three hundred refugees were initially detained by Turkish authorities. However, the other two-thirds of the group were reportedly convinced or coerced into returning to Syria after signing papers affirming that they would not attempt to re-enter Turkey. The practice of forcibly returning refugees to a country where they face safety risks or death is known as refoulement, and it is prohibited by both international law and Turkey’s own domestic laws.
The refugees allege that they were subject to ill-treatment during their unlawful detention. One man who suffered a heart attack was brought to the hospital but almost immediately returned to the sports hall where the refugees were being held. He did not receive further medical attention, follow-up care, or medication. Others detained at the facility complained of various untended-to health ailments. In addition, the facility itself was inadequate for 95 people, with only one shower and one toilet. Perhaps most egregiously, refugees were ill-treated during interrogations, with some reporting that Turkish police officers stood on their limbs while others claim that they were threatened with decapitation.
Refugees from oppressive and violent conditions have the right to seek asylum elsewhere, and Turkey is obligated to respect that right as a member of the international community. Sign the petition demanding an investigation into the treatment suffered by the 95 Syrian refugees, and urge Turkish authorities to provide the refugees with any medical attention they may require as a result of their long detentions.
The recent treatment of 95 Syrian refugees entering Turkey is deplorable. Detained without any just cause for over two weeks, the refugees were provided with inadequate facilities, allegedly threatened and mistreated, and denied necessary medical care. I urge you to take steps toward making things right. Please provide the recently released refugees with any medical care they may require, and launch a full and impartial investigation into their treatment at the hands of those detaining them.
The 95 refugees were initially part of a larger group of around 300 people; however, two-thirds of the group were convinced or coerced into returning to Syria. If this is true, it would constitute a clear case of refoulement, which is prohibited by both international human rights laws and Turkey’s own domestic laws.
Of the 95 who remained, several reported that they were interrogated by officers who stood on their limbs or threatened them with decapitation. Some were denied medical care; in one instance, a man who suffered a heart attack was brought to the hospital but immediately returned to the sports hall where the refugees were being held. He received no further medical attention, follow-up care, or even medication.
This treatment of refugees is unacceptable. It is unlikely that Turkey will ever be able to make things completely right, but a good start would be to offer the 95 recently released refugees any medical attention they require and to launch a full and impartial investigation into their treatment at the hands of the gendarmerie.
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Photo credit: ljungh via DeviantArt