Target: Zacharoula Tsirigoti, Lieutenant General of the Hellenic Police
Goal: Prevent two asylum seekers from being returned to Turkey against their will.
J.B. and M.F., two Syrian men seeking asylum in Greece, have had their applications denied and have been told that they will be returned to Turkey from whence they both came. Their applications did not receive a thorough evaluation, and Amnesty International argues that Turkey is not safe for the men. Sign the petition and urge Greece to halt the men’s return while it re-evaluates their applications.
Under a recent European Union agreement with Turkey, Greece has the ability to send asylum seekers back to Turkey if authorities believe that they will be safe there. However, Turkey has a terrible track record with refugees, has proven to be overcrowded, lacks essential resources, and offers few opportunities for permanent settlement for refugees. Additionally, M.F. actually fled Turkey fearing for his safety after being threatened by members of the Islamic State.
Both men were found to have “established links” with Turkey; M.F. had temporary residency status, which expired earlier this year, and J.B. “worked informally for a few months.” On these grounds, neither men’s applications received a thorough evaluation. They have both appealed the decisions, but there is no guarantee that they won’t be sent back to Turkey in the meantime.
Turkey has a history of violating the international human rights policy of non-refoulement, which states that a refugee cannot be forcibly returned to their country of origin if they would be in danger there. It also “denies full refugee status, and with it the possibility of long-term integration, to all non-European refugees,” Amnesty International reports, making it difficult for refugees to settle and rebuild their lives there.
It is imperative that both J.B. and M.F.’s applications receive a fair evaluation. Sign the petition and urge Greece to allow the men to stay while it addresses their appeals.
Dear Lieutenant General Tsirigoti,
The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the most dire in our lifetimes, and that is why I am disappointed to receive news that two refugees, M.F. and J.B., have been denied asylum in Greece based on an incomplete evaluation of their circumstances and applications. Both men are at risk of being returned to Turkey, which could prove incredibly dangerous for them. I therefore urge you to allow the men to remain in Greece throughout their appeals process, and I demand that their applications be thoroughly and fairly assessed.
Both M.F. and J.B.’s applications were denied based on their having “established links” in Turkey, Amnesty International reports. However, J.B. only “worked informally for a few months” as he passed through, and while M.F. had temporary residency status, it has since expired. Furthermore, M.F. fled Turkey, fearing for his safety after being threatened by members of the Islamic State.
Given Turkey’s history of violating the international human rights principle of non-refoulement, both men face significant risk of being forced back to Syria if they are returned to Turkey. They also will face crowded conditions and have very little opportunity to rebuild their lives in Turkey, which does not offer full refugee status.
Greece is bound by international human rights obligations and must offer a fair evaluation of M.F. and J.B.’s circumstances. In the meantime, I ask that you allow them to remain in Greece.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ggia