Contrary to international conventions prohibiting the forcible repatriation or deportation of refugees without first ensuring their safety, Turkey’s government continues to send Syrians back to war zones across the border.
The most recent case perhaps was that of opposition journalist Farouq Rifai, who is originally from the now largely destroyed southwestern city of Quneitra. He was deported to northern Syrian territory towards the end of May, despite possessing all documents needed to seek refuge and stay in Turkey.
But Rifai is hardly alone. Turkish authorities, also in May, arrested a Kurdish politician Hewas Egid alongside members of his family. Egid was a leader in Syria’s Kurdish reform movements, a member of the political wing of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and a representative for the opposition’s High Negations Committee (HNC).
Egid’s fellow leader in the Kurdish Reform Party, Abdul Wahab Ahmed, said that the arrest took place in Istanbul during the family’s visit to review the residency status of their six-year-old son.
Commenting further on the arrest, Ahmed said it is a precedent in terms of an expired residency being the only grounds needed to hold someone in custody. Egid’s wife was arrested alongside three of her children and was asked to sign her deportation letter.
“The hired legal defence rejected signing the letter, and requested the family be moved to Germany, where it already established residency,” Ahmed told 7Dnews.
After being released from a Turkish detention centre, with the help of German and French diplomatic missions, Egid’s wife and children safely landed in Germany on May 27th.
As for why the family was ever targeted, Ahmed said the deportation was politically motivated, yet masqueraded under the notion of a ‘national security threat.’
Egid had criticized Ankara and its conduct in the north of Syria. He also documented counts of human rights violations committed by Turkey-backed rebels in Afrin, a Kurdish town in northern Syria. These reasons, according to Ahmed, had led to Turkey denying the Kurdish leader the chance to stay in Istanbul.
Sardar Mlla Darwish, a long time Syrian journalist who lived in Turkey, reaffirmed that deportations are on the rise.
“Turkey is becoming increasingly tough with incoming Syrians and is no longer accepting anyone who disagrees with it or criticizes its policy,” Darwish said, labelling the status quo as “troubling.”
Even worse, Turkish authorities are working closely with Syrians who are also Ankara loyalists to crackdown on activists that are critical of Turkey’s regional policy.