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Oppression of Supporters of the Hizmet Movement in Turkey and Abroad

There is an ongoing suppression of dissidents following the attempted coup of July 15, 2016. The state of emergency and the decree laws pave the way for discrimination and segregation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and political or other opinions. Women and children are discriminated and segregated on the basis of their identity or the identity of their family members and parents. Ordinary citizens including, women, men, children, elderly, and disabled people face discrimination based on physical or mental disability, birth registration, place of residence, social segregation, gender or health, and sometimes a combination of these reasons.

Below are some types of discrimination that people face in Turkey:
• More than 150,000 public officials are dismissed from their positions without any evidence, due process and any explanation but their names appear on long lists.
• More than 60,000 people have been arrested because of alleged links with the Hizmet Movement without any concrete criminal evidence. Much more were taken into custody and released under probation.
• The government violated people’s fundamental right to travel by either canceling or not issuing their passports.
• The government’s inflammatory rhetoric and hate speech target the followers of the Hizmet Movement and other dissidents. Both public and the government have been labeling people as terrorists even though there is no such indication, only because they support or are not against the Hizmet Movement.
• Assets of the Hizmet Movement’s supporters have been frozen leading people to suffer also financially besides other problems.
• People labeled as terrorists cannot find a job neither in public nor in private field.
• Dissidents and their families are deliberately deprived of social services and financial resources needed for physical survival.
• The state of emergency and the new decree laws impose life-threatening forcible discrimination and segregation in Turkey.
• Majority of the Turkish citizens face fear and betrayal in a police state.
• The dissidents and human rights defenders are under arbitrary detention and arrest without due process.
• There are grave violations of international human rights law and atrocity crimes including torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
• There is a lack of legal remedies in the Turkish judiciary, people cannot look for a remedy from the courts and other mechanisms such as the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission.
• Torture and other similar incidents have been witnessed a lot especially during police custody.
• People arrested over Hizmet links are kept under inhuman conditions in overcrowded prisons.
• Both arrestees and their visitors are under psychological pressure by the guards.
• Family members of people who are at large are threatened by police officers to be taken into custody and arrested if they do not give information about their relatives’ whereabouts.

Below are some types of human rights violations Turkish people with links to the Hizmet Movement face abroad:
• Turkish citizens abroad are vulnerable for arbitrary detentions, abductions and expulsions, therefore, need protection.
• There are 229 Turkish citizens abroad who are called to return Turkey; if not, they will be deprived of nationality.
• Hundreds and thousands of Turkish citizens abroad are denied of consular services including newborns who became stateless outside of Turkey. Consulates do not issue passports to these people as well.
• Turkish citizens seeking asylum would face torture and ill-treatment if deported to Turkey.
• Because of passport cancellations by the Turkish government, family members of the supporters in Turkey cannot leave Turkey leading to family separation.
• Foreign governments do not grant visa in most cases to the families of asylum seekers that include the supporters of the Hizmet Movement abroad, which again leads to family separation.
• In some cases, family members of the supporters of the Movement could be able to leave Turkey but reach out the countries that are not safe such as Kyrgyzstan and Morocco. It is highly risky that they might be deported or will face same type of persecution in these countries because of Erdogan’s pressure. Again because of visa and passport problems, they cannot go to safer countries.
• In most cases assets and bank accounts of the supporters and their family members are frozen by the government, thus people cannot transfer their funds abroad and struggle for a living.
• Most people seeking asylum abroad are still waiting for a decision especially in the United States because of the long process of asylum application. They live in uncertainty by not knowing when will they be granted asylum and attain their rights.


Download as a PDF File: AST_2-1-2018_oppression-of-supporters-of-the-hizmet-movement-in-turkey-and-abroad_P10

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Severity of Human Rights Violations in Turkey & Support to Turkish Migrants and Refugees

Since the attempted coup of July 15, 2016, the government of Turkey has been taking strict measures to silence dissidents in other countries from various ideologies recently. One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement (a.k.a “Hizmet Movement”, meaning service in Turkish), has been the main target since 2013. The Gulen Movement is a faith-based non-political, cultural and educational movement. The Movement is composed of a cluster of religious, educational and social organizations inspired by Fethullah Gulen.

After the July 15 failed coup attempt, the Turkish government accused Fethullah Gulen and his sympathizers for having a connection with the failed coup. Gulen has repeatedly dismissed any involvement in the coup attempt. Foreign intelligence units such as Germany’s BND Foreign Intelligence Agency’s chief, EU intelligence-sharing unit (Intern), UK Parliament and U.S. House Intel Chair have all noted that there is no evidence that shows Gulen’s involvement. Nonetheless, Gulen spoke to global media outlets right after the coup attempt and called for an open international investigation to find out who was behind the attempt.

Yet, the Turkish government chose to declare state of emergency, which still continues, to purge thousands of people. Alleged supporters of the Movement in Turkey have been dealing with arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, confiscation and passport seizure. After the failed coup, more than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily detained and more than 60,000 people have been arrested. Most of them are from the elite part of the society and are all well-educated individuals with different backgrounds such as doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, engineers and so on. The striking point is that most were imprisoned with no compelling evidence of any criminal activity. Nonetheless, there are 17,000 women in jail and 1914 children, where 688 are babies under age of six. There have also been several cases where women who just gave birth have been put in prison with their few days old babies. Moreover, more than 4,400 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed. The government has also seized 3,003 schools, dormitories, and universities. The government has also confiscated more than 800 companies worth more than $10 billion.

All independent media in Turkey have been shut down and confiscated by the government. Turkey is the leading country to imprison most journalists. Turkey has arrested 319 journalists since the coup. A lot of people are arrested for talking against government’s policies. Many students get imprisoned for their critical tweets. 70 thousand students are currently in jail in Turkey.

People are also arrested for having downloaded an encrypted messaging phone application called ByLock. The government believes coup plotters used this application. The Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT) has handed over a list of people who have allegedly downloaded the application. People who are alleged of downloading the application have been imprisoned. Prof. Izzet Özgenç, who is one of the founders of the Turkish Penal Code, emphasized that the Bylock arrests made without revealing any evidence are unlawful. Recently, Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that close to 11 thousand people have been mistakenly investigated for use of ByLock. Turkey has also put the Amnesty International’s Turkey head, Taner Kiliç in jail for having downloaded block. While Kiliç claims that he has never downloaded the application, he is facing imprisonment for up to 15 years.

International human rights organizations have condemned and reported the human rights violations occurring in Turkey. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the winner of ‘Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press’ and ‘Most Thin-skinned’ awards. A new report released by the independent, non-profit and non-partisan watchdog organization Freedom House concluded that democratic principles such as election integrity and freedom of the press, political and civil rights have severely downgraded in Turkey that is no longer ‘a free country’. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in its recent “World Report 2018” that innocent people are imprisoned with no substantial evidence, inalienable rights have been taken away, and that there are more than 2,200 cases of torture and ill-treatment. Hugh Williamson, Europe, and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said that “everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded”.

Due to increasingly severe human rights violations in Turkey, families have chosen to leave their country to seek safe haven. Many families have sought to enter Europe to seek asylum due to geographical proximity. However, there are also thousands of people who have also successfully reached and sought asylum in the United States. Unfortunately not everyone successfully reaches Europe. On November 21, 2017, Greek media reported that Greek authorities have found bodies of five members of the Maden family, including three children, a short time ago on the Greek Island of Lesvos. The father, Huseyin Maden, and mother, Nur Maden, were allegedly linked to the Gulen Movement and was forced to flee due to arrest warrant issued out on their names. The drowning has sparked outrage over an ongoing political purge.

Regrettably, Turkish government’s actions against the Gulen Movement are not limited to Turkish borders but are also extraterritorial. There are many examples of abductions and physical violence incidents in several countries as well as threats by pro-government people referring to the supporters abroad. Recently some Turkish teachers and principles who worked at schools funded by the Gulen Movement in Malaysia, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan have been abducted, and in some cases illegally deported back to Turkey.

Families who have successfully reached the United States by escaping the oppression of the Turkish government are now facing new challenges. Most of the families have left everything behind in Turkey; jobs, houses, education, relatives and the Turkish government have blocked their bank accounts. Some families were able to only bring a single luggage.

These families are now in need of shelter, financial support, and acceptance of their asylum applications. You could help by personally providing donations to these individuals, or donate through human rights organizations like Embrace Relief or Advocates of Silenced Turkey, who focuses on these Turkish nationals. You could also help with helping them attain legal help and cover legal fees for their asylum applications, with their education fees. Some other ways you can help is by sending support letters regarding the persecution of these Gulen sympathizers to relevant bodies such as the State Department, embassies and the European Court of Human Rights. You can also create awareness using social media and encourage other human rights and humanitarian aid organizations to create campaigns on behalf of these individuals. Given their circumstance, we hope that you can help these people through your support. Every bit of help will aggregate to make a big difference.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_SEVERITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY & SUPPORT TO TURKISH MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES_P9

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How The Supporters Of The Hizmet Movement Suffer From Persecutions By The Turkish Government?

Introduction

The Turkish government’s oppressive regime and strict measures against dissidents, especially the Hizmet Movement, have created a new group of people seeking asylum around the world. This paper includes many statements from various organizations and experts on the current situation in Turkey in terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Hence, this study aims to shed light on how the authorities are expected to react towards asylum cases from Turkish applicants citing the risk of persecution based on their links with the Hizmet Movement.

1. Situation in Turkey in terms of Human Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Rule of Law and Democracy

1.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Turkey’s status declined from Partly Free to Not Free, its political rights rating declined from 4 to 5, and its civil liberties rating declines from 5 to 6 due to a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that centralized power in the presidency, the mass replacement of elected mayors with government appointees, arbitrary prosecutions of rights activists and other perceived enemies of the state, and continued purges of state employees, all of which have left citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.

Constitutional revisions that concentrated power in the presidency were adopted in an April referendum. The campaign featured a grossly uneven playing field, and last-minute changes to the criteria for validating ballots—made in contravention of the law—undermined the legitimacy of the vote count.

The fear of arbitrary arrest stifled public discussion and weakened civil society.

1.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Many decrees adopted contained measures that undermine human rights safeguards and conflict with Turkey’s international human rights obligations.

In January, the government ruled on the establishment of an ad hoc commission to review decisions made under the state of emergency. The commission lacks independence since its seven members are appointed by the same authorities responsible for approving dismissals and closures. … In the meantime, those affected have no right to work in public service, their bank accounts are frozen, and passports confiscated.

Turkey is the world leader in jailing journalists and media workers as they face criminal investigations and trials, with around 150 behind bars at time of writing. Most newspapers and television channels lack independence and promote the government’s political line.

There were widespread reports of police beating detainees, subjecting them to prolonged stress positions and threats of rape, threats to lawyers, and interference with medical examinations.

1.3. United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on his mission to Turkey, 7 June 2017

The state of emergency decrees adopted in the aftermath of the coup attempt are far-reaching and give authorities wide discretionary powers to derogate from human rights obligations, without providing adequate channels for judicial review and appeal.

The Government is obligated to ensure that any restriction on freedom of expression during the state of emergency is strictly proportionate to the exigency of the situation. The tests of necessity and proportionality are not suspended during a period of derogation linked with a state of emergency.

1.4. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2016/17, 21 February 2017

Freedom of expression deteriorated sharply during the year. After the declaration of a state of emergency, 118 journalists were remanded in pre-trial detention and 184 media outlets were arbitrarily and permanently closed down under executive decrees, leaving opposition media severely restricted. People expressing dissent, especially in relation to the Kurdish issue, were subjected to threats of violence and criminal prosecution. Internet censorship increased. At least 375 NGOs, including women’s rights groups, lawyers’ associations and humanitarian organizations, were shut by executive decree in November.

After July, the authorities used state of emergency laws to issue blanket bans preventing demonstrations in cities across Turkey. [P]olice used excessive force against people attempting to exercise the right to freedom of peaceful assembly regardless of the bans.

The state of emergency removed protections for detainees and allowed previously banned practices, which helped facilitate torture and other ill-treatment: the maximum pre-charge detention period was increased from four to 30 days; and facilities to block detainees’ access to lawyers in pre-charge detention for five days, and to record conversations between client and lawyer in pre-trial detention and pass them to prosecutors were introduced. Detainees’ access to lawyers and the right to consult with their choice of lawyers – rather than state-provided lawyers – was further restricted. Medical examinations were carried out in the presence of police officers and the reports arbitrarily denied to detainees’ lawyers.

Widespread torture and other ill-treatment of suspects accused of taking part in the coup attempt was reported in its immediate aftermath. In July, severe beatings, sexual assault, threats of rape and cases of rape were reported, as thousands were detained in official and unofficial police detention. Military officers appeared to be targeted for the worst physical abuse but holding detainees in stress positions and keeping them handcuffed behind their backs, and denying them adequate food and water or toilet breaks were reported to have taken place on a far wider scale. Lawyers and detainees’ relatives were often not informed that individuals had been detained until they were brought for charge.

1.5. Amnesty International, Annual Report 2015/16, 24 February 2016

Politically motivated appointments and transfers of judges and prosecutors continued throughout the year, wreaking havoc on a judiciary already lacking independence and impartiality. Criminal Courts of Peace – with jurisdiction over the conduct of criminal investigations, such as pre-charge detention and pre-trial detention decisions, seizure of property and appeals against these decisions – came under increasing government control.

1.6. Hugh Williams, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, 18 January 2018

Everywhere you look, checks and balances that protect human rights and rule of law in Turkey are being eroded. The move to a presidential system, the ongoing state of emergency, and charges against opposition lawmakers have all weakened parliament, the courts are under ever tighter government control, and the crackdown on media and civil society deepens.

1.7. Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights (former), 7 October 2016

The decrees have introduced sweeping measures affecting, among others, civil society, municipalities, private schools, universities and medical establishments, legal professionals, media, business and finance, as well as the family members of suspects…. [T]he series of emergency decrees adopted in Turkey since July created very far-reaching, almost unlimited discretionary powers for administrative authorities and the executive in any areas, by derogation from general principles of rule of law and human rights safeguards ordinarily applicable in a democratic society.

Turkish authorities should immediately start repealing the emergency decrees, starting with the provisions which allow the highest degrees of arbitrariness in their application and stray the widest from ordinary guarantees.

1.8. British Legal Experts Lord Woolf, Sir Jeffrey Jowell, Sir Edward Garnier, July 2015

Since December 2013, the government has taken unprecedented steps to exert executive control over Turkey’s judiciary, to interfere with and derail the corruption investigation, to stifle criticism in the media and on the internet. The government has brought the main institution responsible for the judiciary, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, under its control by purging its members of anyone suspected of opposing the AKP government.

1.9. Riza Turmen, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (former)

Turkey has a serious regime problem; it is not a democracy – you can probably call it ‘elected authoritarianism.’ It is a majoritarian and hegemonic system.

2. Persecutions that the Supporters of the Hizmet Movement Face

2.1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018, 19 January 2018

Using emergency powers and vaguely worded terrorism laws, the authorities had suspended or dismissed more than 110,000 people from public-sector positions and arrested more than 60,000 others by year’s end. Extensive use of pretrial detention meant that many suspects were held behind bars for long periods without due process. There was increasing evidence of extrajudicial “disappearances” and routine torture of political detainees.

2.2. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2018, 18 January 2018

Hundreds of media outlets, associations, foundations, private hospitals, and educational establishments that the government shut down by decree remained closed in 2017, their assets confiscated without compensation.

2.3. Amnesty International, No End in Sight: Purged Public Sector Workers Denied a Future in Turkey, 22 May 2017

[D]ecrees include similarly vague and non-individualized references to their connection to (unspecified) terrorist organizations or threat to national security. Nor has any individualized evidence been presented in the few examples of written decisions carried out under the authority of the decrees.

The government decrees also require their passports to be cancelled, preventing them from leaving the country. Others, along with their families, have lost housing and health care benefits provided through their jobs. Many have lost not only their jobs but the ability to carry on their professions, even in the private sector. After being tainted as “terrorists” through their dismissal, many have not been able to find work at all, inhibiting their right to work and their right to an adequate standard of living in the long term.

No individualized justification or evidence for the dismissal of public sector employees has been provided in the decrees or in subsequent administrative decisions made under the authority of the decrees. Neither have dismissed public sector employees been able to obtain information about the grounds for their dismissal either before or following their dismissal, beyond the vague generalized criteria of links to a terrorist organization or threat to national security. … Among the reasons advanced by dismissed public sector employees and their supporters, are people’s actual or perceived opposition to the ruling AK Party government, union activism, and local score-settling.

It remains uncertain for example whether dismissed individuals will be able to claim their full pension rights resulting from their years of service in the public sector. What is clear and stated explicitly in the decrees, is that in addition to being dismissed from their employment, they are expelled from all forms of public service. Given the broad interpretation of public service in Turkey, in many cases this means that dismissed people are effectively banned from continuing their professions.

All of the people Amnesty International spoke to were either living off their savings, being assisted by friends or family, doing jobs such as cleaning in the irregular economy, or surviving on the minimal amount paid to dismissed workers who are members of trade unions. None of the people interviewed believed that they could survive in the long term under these circumstances.

The fact that lists of dismissed people have been published in the decrees and on the internet, and form part of a person’s record, visible to state institutions and the public at large has led to additional pressures on them and their families.

2.4. United States Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, 3 March 2017

Other human rights problems included prison overcrowding compounded by the influx of tens of thousands of new prisoners after the coup attempt. The government fired more than 3,000 members of the judiciary, creating an atmosphere of fear that further limited judicial independence and complicated or delayed court proceedings.

The vast majority were accused of ties to the Gulen movement, as opposed to direct participation in the coup attempt itself. Under the state of emergency, detainees could be held without charge for up to 30 days. There were numerous accounts of persons waiting beyond 30 days to be formally charged.

The suspension, detention, firing, and freezing of personal assets of more than 3,000 members of the judiciary after the July 15 coup attempt (representing about 22 percent of the total) accused of affiliation with the Gulen movement had a chilling effect on judicial independence.

After the July 15 coup attempt, the government seized hundreds of businesses and an estimated 15 billion lira ($4 billion) in assets from alleged members of the Gulen movement.

After the coup attempt, the government targeted family members to exert pressure on some wanted suspects. Under the state of emergency, the government cancelled the passports of family members of civil servants suspended from work as well as of those who had fled authorities. In some cases, the government cancelled or refused to issue passports for the minor children of accused Gulenists who were outside the country, forcing family separation.

3. Approaches of Other Foreign Government Towards Asylum Cases from Turkish Applicants Citing the Risk of Persecution based on Their Links with the Hizmet Movement

3.1. Norway, Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security, 12 October 2017

[A] generally worsening human rights situation in that country have led to a new group of applicants seeking protection in Norway. These are persons who cite the risk of persecution based on links, or alleged links, to the Fethullah Gülen network/ movement. … These applicants can risk arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction and will be entitled to protection … and that in some cases also family members of active Gülen affiliates may be entitled to protection. … The majority who have sought protection in Norway to date have been professors at, or have some other professional connections to, the Gülen schools and colleges at home and abroad.

[A]pplicants with credible indications of involvement within the Gülen movement, or applicants who can show that the domestic authorities in their country of origin have alleged such involvement, and where the actual or alleged involvement may trigger persecution by the authorities, shall be entitled to protection under the Immigration Act. … Referral to internal displacement will not be applicable, since the Turkish authorities control the whole country.

3.2. Canada, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 29 September 2016

[I]nstead of targeting Gulen’s followers who “engaged in genuine criminal activity or abuse of power …” the AKP prosecutors targeted “journalists, businesspeople and academics who appear to be guilty of little more than sympathy for Gulen’s publicly expressed calls for moderation, non-violence and interfaith dialogue.

3.3. United Kingdom, Home Office Country Policy and Information Note, Turkey: Gulenism, April 2017

As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm from the state, they will not be able to avail themselves of the protection of the authorities. … As the person’s fear is of persecution or serious harm at the hands of the state, they will not be able to internally relocate to escape that risk. … Where a claim is refused, it is unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded.’

Overall Evaluation

In the light of all this information and comments, we ask governments, law enforcement officers and security officers to be aware of the risks that the supporters of the Movement may face when they return to their home countries. The Hizmet Movement is known to be promoting non-violence, inter-faith dialogue and education. Members of the Movement have not engaged any violent/criminal activity so far representing a moderate understanding of Islam. Therefore, existence of the Movement is important for the whole world to diminish radicalism where radicals have been creating disasters around the world. We request authorities to consider all these while taking action and speed up the asylum processes as much as possible since these people need immediate help.


Download as a PDF File: AST_1-25-2018_HOW-THE-SUPPORTERS-OF-THE-HIZMET-MOVEMENT-SUFFER-FROM-PERSECUTIONS-BY-THE-TURKISH-GOVERNMENT_P8

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AST Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly Dec 11

Download as pdf: AST_Turkey’s Human Rights Violations Weekly_Dec11

Turkey’s Human Rights Violations | 12/4/2017-12/11/2017

1-“768 senior public servants, families claimed asylum in Germany: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/768-senior-public-servants-families-claimed-asylum-germany-report

2-“Journalist Mehmet Baransu remains arrested following court hearing”
https://turkeypurge.com/journalist-mehmet-baransu-remains-arrested-following-court-hearing

3-“10 judges, prosecutors and lawyers detained in new post-coup probe”
https://turkeypurge.com/10-judges-prosecutors-lawyers-detained-new-post-coup-probe

4-“Prosecutor moves to end parliamentary immunity for 19 pro-Kurdish HDP lawmakers”
https://turkeypurge.com/prosecutor-moves-end-parliamentary-immunity-19-pro-kurdish-hdp-lawmakers

5-“664 people detained over Gülen links in past week: ministry”
https://turkeypurge.com/664-people-detained-gulen-links-past-week-ministry

6-“Jailed Visually Impaired Turkish Journalist Still Lack Of Lawyer To Take Assistance For His Defence Before Courts”
https://stockholmcf.org/jailed-visually-impaired-turkish-journalist-still-lack-of-lawyer-to-take-assistance-for-his-defence-before-courts/

7-“Erdoğan’s Henchman Threatens Exiled Turkish Journalists With Extrajudicial Killings”
https://stockholmcf.org/erdogans-henchman-threatens-turkish-journalists-with-extrajudicial-killings/

8-“Jailed Turkish-German Journalist Deniz Yücel Taken Out Of Solitary Confinement”
https://stockholmcf.org/jailed-turkish-german-journalist-deniz-yucel-taken-out-of-solitary-confinement/

9-“Turkish Police Torture Brother Of A Human Rights Lawyer In Southeast Anatolia”
https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-police-torture-brother-of-a-human-rights-lawyer-in-southeast-anatolia/

10-“Trial begins for peace declaration academics on Dec. 5”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/04/trial-begins-for-peace-declaration-academics-on-dec-5/

11-“İHD and TİHV: 2,278 tortured, 11 abducted in Turkey in 2017”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/09/ihd-and-tihv-2278-tortured-11-abducted-in-turkey-in-2017/

12-“Ankara governor bans anti-corruption speech by communist party member”
https://turkeypurge.com/ankara-governor-bans-anti-corruption-speech-communist-party-member

13-” Swedish Left Party Head Sjöstedt Says Turkish Police Threatened Him To Arrest”
https://stockholmcf.org/swedish-left-party-head-sjostedt-says-turkish-police-threatened-him-to-arrest/

14-“Turkish Gov’t Reluctant To Assign 1,100 Newly Graduated Medical Doctors On Basis Of Security Checks”
https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-govt-reluctant-to-assign-1100-newly-graduated-medical-doctors-on-basis-of-security-checks/

15-“İstanbul court rules for continuation of arrest of Zaman columnists”
https://turkeypurge.com/istanbul-court-rules-continuation-arrest-zaman-columnists

16-“15-year jail term sought for owner of Hosta kebab chain over coup charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/15-year-jail-term-sought-owner-hosta-kebab-chain-coup-charges

17-“Policeman Suspended By Turkish Gov’t Reportedly Dies While Working As Construction Worker”
https://stockholmcf.org/policeman-suspended-by-turkish-govt-reportedly-dies-while-working-as-construction-worker/

18-“Rights groups say 2,278 people tortured, 11 abducted in Turkey in 2017”
https://turkeypurge.com/rights-groups-say-2278-tortured-11-abducted-turkey-2017

19-“Ankara governor bans anti-corruption speech by communist party member”
https://turkeypurge.com/ankara-governor-bans-anti-corruption-speech-communist-party-member

20-” Research shows purge in Turkey ruined lives of 21,000 health care workers ”
https://turkeypurge.com/new-report-shows-turkeys-purge-ruined-lives-21000-health-care-workers

21-” Turkish police officer who saved Erdoğan on night of coup arrested over Gülen links”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/08/turkish-police-officer-who-saved-erdogan-on-night-of-coup-arrested-over-gulen-links/

22-“Press groups call on EU to be less deferential towards Turkey on rights violations”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/08/press-groups-call-on-eu-to-be-less-deferential-towards-turkey-on-rights-violations/

23-“Soldier charged TL 34 million for ‘coup damages’ in Ankara: report”
https://turkeypurge.com/soldier-charged-tl-34-million-coup-damages-report

24-“Court rules to keep pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars”
https://turkeypurge.com/court-rules-keep-pro-kurdish-opposition-leader-selahattin-demirtas-behind-bars

25-“Report says 300 families have fled Turkey to Greece due to post-coup crackdown”
https://turkeypurge.com/300-families-fled-turkeys-post-coup-crackdown-greece-report

26-“Turkey seizes US witness Reza Zarrab’s private jet, yacht”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-seizes-us-witness-reza-zarrabs-private-jet-yacht

27-“Turkey detains 17 for ‘providing US with information’ for Zarrab case”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-detains-17-providing-us-information-zarrab-case

28-“Turkish court rules for continuation of 20 journalists on coup charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkish-court-rules-continuation-20-journalists-coup-charges

29-“Turkey jails solyayin.com editor-in-chief, closes down website on terror charges”
https://turkeypurge.com/solyayin-com-editor-chief-arrested-website-closed-terror-charges

30-“Turkey seizes assets of former opposition deputy over Zarrab case”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkey-seizes-assets-former-opposition-deputy-zarrab-case

31-“Turkey’s former top scorer Zafer Biryol re-detained in post-coup investigation”
https://turkeypurge.com/turkeys-former-top-scorer-zafer-biryol-re-detained-post-coup-investigation

32-“47 including Gülen’s nephew detained in new post-coup probe”
https://turkeypurge.com/47-including-gulens-nephew-detained-new-post-coup-probe

33-“Der Spiegel: Erdogan offered Germany a mafia-like ‘prisoner exchange’”
https://turkeypurge.com/der-spiegel-erdogan-offered-germany-mafia-like-prisoner-exchange

34-“Mysterious note left at CHP office’s door threatens: You’ll pay for it, traitors!”
https://turkeypurge.com/mysterious-note-left-chp-offices-door-threatens-youll-pay-traitors

35-“School principal detained for insulting Erdogan”
https://turkeypurge.com/school-principal-detained-insulting-erdogan

36-” Turkish court rules Yeni Asya journalist Nur Ener to remain behind bars”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/06/turkish-court-rules-yeni-asya-journalist-nur-ener-to-remain-behind-bars/

37-“Teacher couple gets 7 years in jail over Gulen links”
https://turkeypurge.com/teacher-couple-gets-7-year-jail-gulen-links

38-“11 Turkish folk dancers apply for asylum in Hungary after performing in Budapest”
https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/12/05/11-turkish-folk-dancers-apply-for-asylum-in-hungary-after-performing-in-budapest/

39-“Veteran Turkish Journalist Hasan Cemal: A Case Where Universal Principles Of Law Forgotten”
https://stockholmcf.org/veteran-journalist-hasan-cemal-a-case-where-universal-principles-of-law-forgotten/

40-“New York Times: Turkey No Safe Zone For Foreign Political Dissidents ”
https://stockholmcf.org/new-york-times-turkey-no-safe-zone-for-foreign-political-dissidents/

41-“Turkish Asylum Seekers In Greece Tell Of Lives Full Of Fear In Erdoğan’s Turkey”
https://stockholmcf.org/turkish-asylum-seekers-in-greece-tell-of-lives-full-of-fear-in-erdogans-turkey/

42-“Steudtner: Detained Activists In Turkey Face ‘Unfair’ Judicial System”
https://stockholmcf.org/steudtner-detained-activists-in-turkey-face-unfair-judicial-system/

Türkiye tarafından işlenenen İnsan Hakları İhlalleri | 12/4/2017-12/11/2017

1-“Mehmet Baransu’ya yine savunma yaptırmadılar!”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/mehmet-baransuya-yine-savunma-yaptirmadilar-h108526.html

2-“Güney Afrikalı yetimler, hapishanedeki bebekler için yürüdü!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/guney-afrikali-yetimler-hapishanedeki-bebekler-icin-yurudu-h108525.html

3-“Baskı rejiminin olduğu Türkiye’den kaçış!”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/baski-rejiminin-oldugu-turkiyeden-kacis-h108522.html

4-“Erdoğan’ın danışmanı cemaati ‘yargısız infaz’larla tehdit etti!”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/erdoganin-danismani-cemaati-yargisiz-infazlarla-tehdit-etti-h108512.html

5-“Ayda ortalama bin Türk Almanya’dan sığınma istedi!”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/ayda-ortalama-bin-turk-almanyadan-siginma-istedi-h108514.html

6-“Cezaevi tutsağı gazeteci Büşra Erdal’dan mektup var: ‘şükür ki OHAL’de kuşlara ziyaret yasağı yok, kitaplar da ötekileştirmiyor”
http://www.tr724.com/cezaevi-tutsagi-gazeteci-busra-erdaldan-mektup-var-sukur-ki-ohalde-kuslara-ziyaret-yasagi-yok-kitaplar-da-otekilestirmiyor/

7-“AKP’nin havuzu Akit TV Zeyno Erkan’ı tekrar hedef gösterdi”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/akpnin-havuzu-akit-tv-zeyno-erkani-tekrar-hedef-gosterdi-h108785.html

8-“İşte AKP rejiminin yıkım raporu.. Binlerce ölü, işkence, OHAL ve KHK’lar..”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/iste-akp-rejiminin-yikim-raporu-binlerce-olu-iskence-ohal-ve-khklar-h108775.html

9-“İsveçli Sol Parti Lideri: Demirtaş davasından sonra polis bizi tehdit etti”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/isvecli-sol-parti-lideri-demirtas-davasindan-sonra-polis-bizi-tehdit-etti-h108776.html

10-“Süreç uzarsa intihar vakaları başlayabilir”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/surec-uzarsa-intihar-vakalari-baslayabilir-h108743.html

11-“AKP iktidarının, doğumhane kapısındaki utanç nöbeti!”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/akp-iktidarinin-dogumhane-kapisindaki-utanc-nobeti-h108576.html

12-“Yüksekova’da 4 sivili öldüren zırhlı polis aracının kamera görüntüleri ortaya çıktı..”
http://aktifhaber.com/iskence/yuksekovada-4-sivili-olduren-zirhli-polis-aracinin-kamera-goruntuleri-ortaya-cikti-h108597.html

13-“BBC: Türkiye’den kaçan yüzlerce Gülen Cemaati üyesi Selanik’te”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/bbc-turkiyeden-kacan-yuzlerce-gulen-cemaati-uyesi-selanikte/

14-“Siz ‘Gülenci’siniz, benim cezaevine düşerseniz size yapacağımı biliyorum”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/siz-gulencisiniz-benim-cezaevine-duserseniz-size-yapacagimi-biliyorum/

15-“Savunma: ‘Kafasına miğferle vurulmadı, nar isabet ettiği için öldü’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/savunma-kafasina-migferle-vurulmadi-nar-isabet-ettigi-icin-oldu/

16-“‘Dengeler değiştiği an serbest kalacağız, çünkü suçlu değiliz’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/ahmet-turan-alkan-20-yillik-zaman-yazariyim-inandigimi-yazdim-onur-duyuyorum/

17-“Tacı gitti, şimdi hapsi isteniyor”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/taci-gitti-simdi-hapsi-isteniyor/

18-“‘Cezama razıyım, ama terörist suçlamasını kabul etmiyorum’”
http://www.kronos.news/tr/adliye-calisani-114-kisiye-terorden-12-yila-kadar-hapis-cezasi/

19-“323 gün sonra özgür kalan Öğreten: Gazetecilik hala hapiste”
http://www.diken.com.tr/323-gun-sonra-ozgur-kalan-ogreten-gazetecilik-hala-hapiste/

20-“Sesleri duyulmayan 16 bin 500 askeri öğrenci”
http://aktifhaber.com/15-temmuz/sesleri-duyulmayan-16-bin-500-askeri-ogrenci-h108821.html

21-“Süleyman Soylu’dan Kılıçdaroğlu’na: Sen bittin”
http://aktifhaber.com/politika/suleyman-soyludan-kilicdarogluna-sen-bittin-h108816.html

22-“Artık üç örgüte üyelikten tutuklanıyor insanlar”
http://aktifhaber.com/gundem/artik-uc-orgute-uyelikten-tutuklaniyor-insanlar-h108806.html

23-“Arev tutuklu anne babasına kavuştu”
http://aktifhaber.com/genel/arev-tutuklu-anne-babasina-kavustu-h108809.html

24-“Alman İnsan Hakları Sorumlusu’ndan Türkiye açıklaması”
http://aktifhaber.com/dunya/alman-insan-haklari-sorumlusundan-turkiye-aciklamasi-h108802.html

Read more

300 families have fled Turkey to Greece due to post-coup crackdown

A Turkish family that was victimized by a government purge of the Gülen movement following a failed coup in July 2016 has fled to Greece in an inflatable boat, telling their children it was a “game,” Euronews reported.

Read more

Comparative Analysis of Different Countries’ Approaches towards Turkish Asylum Seekers Linked to the Gulen Movement

Summary

 Turkish government has been targeting dissidents from various ideologies recently. One of these opposition groups, the Gulen Movement, has been the main target since 2013. The supporters of the Movement have been dealing with different strict measures perpetrated directly by the state authorities such as arrest, imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of fair trial, confiscation, passport cancellations and labeling. The actions of the government produced a new group of people who seek asylum in many countries around the world. These asylum seekers have been receiving affirmative responses in many countries, four of which will be explored in this study. This paper will examine the perceptions of four countries, namely the Kingdom of Norway, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, towards asylum applications coming from Turkish applicants with links (or alleged links) to the Gulen Movement.

The aim of this policy is to shed light on the current situation of Turkish asylum seekers who have fled from human rights violations and different types of persecution perpetrated by the Turkish government. In addition, this analysis aims to provide more information and guidance for decision makers to understand why the Gulen Movement’s supporters are applying for asylum and seek protection.

Introduction

Before going into details about refugee status and states’ approaches towards the Gulen Movement’s supporters, it is important to look at the level of human rights recognition and protection within these states. There are many reports regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world, but this paper will briefly mention the data from the latest Freedom in the World 2017 report[1] prepared by the Freedom House[2] as it is one of the most reliable and recent ones.

Freedom House prepares the Freedom in the World report each year which awards countries aggregate scores from 0 to 100 (0 is the least free whereas 100 freest), and also ratings for political rights and civil liberties from 1 to 7 (7 is the least free whereas 1 freest). All the countries mentioned in this study got good scores in these categories. Accordingly, all countries awarded 1, indicating the best results, both for political rights and civil liberties putting them into the category of ‘free’ countries. Norway’s aggregate score – together with Finland and Sweden – is 100. Close to Norway, Canada has got 99 aggregate score ranked right after Finland, Norway and Sweden, and the UK’s score is 95. Lastly, even though a bit lower than the others, the US has got 89 in aggregate score which is a very good score compared to the world.

Regarding the situation of refugees, it must be recalled that three of these states, Norway, Canada and the UK, are parties to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees[3] (known as the “1951 Refugee Convention”). Norway and Canada incorporated the Convention directly into their national legislation, whereas the UK only refers to it in relevant acts. The US is only party to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees,[4] even so, it means the country undertook most of the obligations in the Convention itself.

Below, each country’s approach towards the Gulen Movement will be examined individually, and then an overall evaluation will be made in the light of information provided.

1. Kingdom of Norway

As is known, Norway is one of the best countries around the world in terms of human rights recognition and implementation. The Kingdom of Norway is known to be one of the strictest countries in Europe in terms of refugee policies,[5] and moreover, the country has tightened its asylum rules this year to strengthen its borders.[6] Yet, the country provides a good level of protection to the refugees who are within its borders. The Act of 15 May 2008 on the Entry of Foreign Nationals into the Kingdom of Norway and Their Stay in the Realm (known as the “Immigration Act”) regulates the conditions for asylum seekers to be recognized as refugees in its Section 28.[7] Quite similar to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Section 28 defines the foreign national who “has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of ethnicity, origin, skin colour, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or for reasons of political opinion, and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin” as a refugee. The provision which includes families of the refugees to the scope, however, is not unconditional that the Immigration Act §28 excludes foreigners who can obtain effective protection in other parts of their home countries. Section 29 clarifies the circumstances in which acts can be accepted as persecution under the Immigration Act. Accordingly, severe violations of basic human rights especially those violate non-derogable rights in the European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter “ECHR”) are considered as persecution.[8] Forms of persecution stated in the Norwegian Act vary from mental and/or physical violence to any type of disproportionate and/or discriminatory measures. Lastly, Section 30 elaborates the concepts of religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group and political opinion as persecution grounds.

Following the worrying series of events since 2013 in Turkey, especially after the so-called attempted coup, Turkish people having alleged links with the Gulen Movement have started to apply for asylum in different countries including Norway. The country has examined many cases coming from applicants with alike backgrounds and the number is expected to increase because of the worsening situation in Turkey. For this reason, on October 12, 2017 the Ministry of Justice and Public Security has published instructions aiming to provide guidelines regarding the cases of Movement’s supporters.[9] The instructions start with a background information that acts of the Turkish government have created a new group of asylum seekers who, if they return to their home country of Turkey, might face risks of “arrest, imprisonment, torture and conviction.”[10] The Ministry also emphasizes that the majority of the applicants are well-educated people having professional relations with the Gulen schools and colleges who could provide both identifying and other documents proving their links with the Movement. Taking into account these, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration proposed as regards the applicants with strong indications of involvement with the Movement to be entitled protection under the Immigration Act §28. It must also be noted that as the Turkish government controls the whole territory, it is not possible for applicants to be displaced internally. Yet, these instructions do not mean to exclude a concrete and individual assessment to be made in each case considering present situation in Turkey.

The instructions by the Ministry are clearly defined which can be summarized as such:

Firstly, the Ministry requires that each case will be subject to concrete and individual assessment based on every applicant’s specific profile and possible reactions they may face in case of return. It stresses that having links (or alleged links) with the Movement merely is not sufficient to be protected under the Immigration Act §28.

Secondly, while examining the application, up-to-date information about the possible acts of the Turkish government must be considered, for which the Directorate is tasked to monitor the developments in Turkey closely.

Thirdly, the applicants are under obligation to prove their identities as well as links with the Gulen Movement themselves as much as possible.

Fourthly, the Ministry recalls the exclusion provision in Section §31 which regulates that if a person committed one of the mentioned crimes, s/he will not be entitled to protection. This is aimed at individuals who cited “fear of future criminal prosecution” because they have committed or acted as accessories to the criminal acts committed during the attempted coup. Even if the conditions to be accepted as refugees under Section §28 are met, there might still be a possibility of exclusion as per Section §31.

Fifthly, being dismissed is “not alone sufficient to warrant the designation persecution.” For an act to be considered as persecution under the Norwegian Act, requirements in Section 29 must be met which requires severe human rights violations to be perpetrated.

Sixthly and lastly, the Directorate must take into account the fundamental national interests and foreign policy concerns of Norway while assessing the applications.

Norway’s instructions prove the country’s affirmative approach towards asylum seekers connected to the Gulen Movement.

2. Canada

Canada has also been one of the exemplary countries ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms within its jurisdiction. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remarked on several occasions, the country is also very welcoming towards refugees. Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, Trudeau wrote on social media that “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” which is only one of his many inclusive statements.[11]

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (hereinafter “IRPA”) stipulates similar definitions and conditions with the Norway’s Act.[12] Canadian Act was adopted with many objectives in asylum seekers’ favor, one of which is to “offer safe haven to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution.”[13] The Act also aims to provide fair and efficient procedures regarding the applications as well as to support refugees both socially and economically.[14] According to relevant definitions in the Act a refugee is “a person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, (a) is outside each of their countries of nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of each of those countries.”[15] Such a person cannot be returned back to her or his home country unless constituting a danger to public in Canada meaning that criminals will not fall under the scope.[16]

This general information of Canadian approach towards refugees must be considered together with the attitude towards Turkish nationals linked with the Gulen Movement. Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada responded to information requests regarding the Movement on September 29, 2016.[17] The Response includes brief background information stating that the Gulen Movement “espouses a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with democracy,” and that it started as a religious but then converted into a transnational civil society movement. Main objective of the Movement is to “attain God’s good pleasure based on the conviction that ‘service to humanity is service to God.’” For instance, aiming this objective, the Movement has been supporting students who are in need without expecting any thing in return. Whereas the Movement was seen as an ally of the Turkish government especially by leftists, after corruption investigations against the ruling party President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then-Prime Minister) declared the group as a terrorist organization and since then they have been blamed for everything going wrong in the country just like a scapegoat. The Directorate tries to clarify the structure of the Movement and highlights that there is “no formal structure.” The Response mentions different fields of the Movement’s activities as well, for example, Gulenist institutions are active in education, business and health. Furthermore, the Directorate notes that the participation in these activities are only voluntary and that there is no monetary or other ‘worldly’ incentives.

The Response also adds information as regards the government’s treatment against everyone who has links (or alleged links) with the Movement. It is specified that especially after the attempted coup the government shut down all the institutions that are perceived to be Gulenist (such as schools, colleges, media outlets, hospitals, associations and a bank). In addition, civil servants including judges, military personnel and police officers were dismissed and labeled as terrorists because of their alleged involvement in the so-called attempted coup. However, the Directorate refers to the statements by the US Secretary of State that there needs to be “legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny” regarding the the Movement’s involvement in the attempted coup and extradition of Mr. Fethulah Gulen, who has been living in self-exile in the US for a long time. It must again be recalled that the Movement strongly denies any involvement and has been asking for an international investigation.[18]

The Directorate touches on reports by non-governmental organizations on the present situation in Turkey as well. For instance, according to the Turkey Analyst, the government declared state of emergency continuingly after the attempted coup to “cleanse Turkey of Gulen supporters.”[19] According to the Human Rights Watch, state of emergency allows the government to rule the country by decree laws with only minimum parliamentary and none judicial oversight. The Human Right Watch also notes that the extent of the measures “goes far beyond” that people who are not involved in the coup attempt but only have perceived links with the Movement have started to be the targets.[20] Thousands of people from different occupations were jailed regardless of any individual assessment. Lastly, Amnesty International’s reports are also alluded in the Response. Pursuant to that, Amnesty points out the situation of detainees who was taken after the attempted coup and were “‘being held arbitrarily’ with ‘no evidence establishing reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.’” Moreover, during the questionings suspects were asked questions irrelevant to the coup attempt trying to reveal if they have any sympathy towards Mr. Gulen.[21] Amnesty also notes that torture, inhuman and degrading treatment including rape took place in the country’s both official and unofficial detention centers.

The Directorate also draws attention to the fact that requests to extradite people were also made to the Canadian authorities regarding the Movement’s supporters in Canada. However, authorities asked for real evidences rather than mere accusations and allegations to take these requests into consideration.[22] The Response refers to the Turkish institutions supporting the Movement active in Canada as well who aim to “advance social cohesion via (through) personal interaction by promoting respect and mutual understanding among people of all cultures and faiths through dialogue and partnership.”[23] Therefore, when it comes to the Turkish refugees and asylum seekers, Canada has been a safe and stable country which will be clarified more below.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has examined many cases from Turkish applicants with Gulenist links. According to the latest statistics by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the Refugee Protection Division has received 1665 applications in 2017 (till September), 895 of which have been accepted so far whereas only 121 were rejected, most of the rest are pending and expected to result positively.[24] The number of received applications in 2016 was 1103, 398 accepted 67 rejected rest is pending.[25] Applications in 2017 as of September quintupled the number in 2015 (which was 295 in total, 104 accepted and 51 rejected)[26] and the number is expected to grow as the time goes. Lorne Waldman, an immigration lawyer from Toronto who has handled almost 20 relevant cases, stated that “Not one has been refused” and added “The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada takes it as a given that Turks affiliated with Gulen will be at risk if they return to Turkey.”[27]

3. United Kingdom

 Even though the UK’s remarkable respect for human rights, the country does not seem to be very welcoming towards refugees that the asylum system is very complex and tough according to experts.[28] The Immigration Act 1971 still governs the process with subsequent amendments in several years. Though the 1951 Refugee Convention has not been directly incorporated into the national legislation – unlike the ECHR, the laws order that any application against the 1951 Refugee Convention are not allowed.[29] Therefore, definitions and concepts in the Convention are valid for the British government. Accordingly, definition of a refugee is a person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”[30]

The UK is not silent about the recent problems occurring in Turkey as well. Home Office prepared an extensive report on the Gulen Movement in April 2017 which elaborates the present situation in Turkey regarding the government’s actions against the supporters.[31] The Movement, who promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasizes altruism, modesty, hard work and education according to BBC,[32] has been in the target board for a long time and has been dealing with various strict measures such as arrest, arbitrary detention, dismissal, asset seizure, passport cancellation, closures of Gulenist institutions as well as labeling all the members and sympathizers as terrorists.[33] Moreover, the government has been violating basic human rights including non-derogable ones that even torture and inhuman and degrading treatment took place in detention centers especially after the coup attempt.[34]

Risks Gulenists may face in their home country and severity of the situation are illustrated very well in the report with reference to different international and non-governmental organizations, human rights experts and news agencies. Home Office classifies the situation of Turkish asylum seekers as amounting to “persecution on the grounds of political opinion” since the measures are taken simply because of having some (or alleged) links with the Movement without considering if the person was really involved in the coup or other illegal activities.[35] The possibilities of discriminatory and disproportionate punishment as well as denial of fair trial are asked to be considered by decision makers.[36] The report also highlights that internal relocation is not possible for Gulenists, because the actions are taken directly by the state institutions all over the country.[37] Lastly, even if an asylum claim is rejected “it is unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded’”[38] under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002[39] meaning that a possibility to appeal the refusal decision will be on the table.

In the light of information provided in the report, it can be concluded that asylum claims of the Gulen supporters are likely to be accepted by the UK. It is noteworthy that the report reminds decisions makers of exclusion clauses as well meaning that if an asylum seeker has been involved in any crime especially the attempted coup itself, it will not be contrary to the 1951 Refugee Convention to refuse the application. Last but not least it is crucial to realize it is the applicant’s responsibility to prove what would s/he face (and whether it amounts to persecution due to political opinion) in case of return.[40]

4.   United States

The US has been one of the countries who receives refugees in quite high numbers. Primary legislation regulating the status of refugees is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.[41] After an amendment in 1980, the Act includes a similar definition of a refugee with the 1951 Refugee Convention. Section 101(a)42(A) of this Act defines a refugee as “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

After the coup attempt in July 2016, just as previous countries, the US has received many asylum applications from Turkish nationals who have some connections with the Gulen Movement. The US’ position towards the issue is significant in a sense that Mr. Fethullah Gulen himself has been living in self-exile in the US since 1999. Turkish government requested his extradition to Turkey, and even though Turkish officials have been criticizing the US loudly for protecting him, the US Justice Department has not been provided sufficiently enough evidence for them to act upon.[42]

US Department of State’s annual report on human rights practices around the world explained in detail the human rights condition in Turkey.[43] The government has been violating human rights and fundamental freedoms within its borders on a large scale. Decree laws have dismissed tens of thousands of people from their jobs through long lists. Most of these people and many others have been accused of being terrorists “in many cases with little clarity on the charges and evidence against them.”[44] The report reiterates that the great majority of imprisoned people were people who have some links with or sympathy towards the Movement, whereas as criminal law requires it should have been considered whether they have participated to the coup activities.[45] Even though there is no formal number of political prisoners, experts suggest that many people (especially journalists) arrested after the attempted coup could be considered as such.[46] Detainees are taken under terror-related laws which are broadly defined and even more their rights within jails are not respected as well.[47]

There were even cases where police arrested family members of people who were not at home when the police came aiming intimidation.[48] In addition, even though it was legal to publish and possess books supporting the Gulen Movement and that those books were publicly available by certified publishers, right after the coup attempt police officers started seeing books as a “credible evidence of membership in a banned organization.”[49]

Considering all these it is no surprise that the Movement’s supporters have applied for asylum in the US as well. Though the US’ asylum procedure is quite long and that many applicants still wait to be heard before a judge, there have been cases where the applicant was heard and granted asylum. For instance, an immigration court in New Jersey decided to grant asylum to the applicant after the respondent illustrated in detail why and how would he be at risk if he returns to Turkey.[50] The judge specified the respondent’s testimony credible since he presented his story in great detail without any contradiction. The court was satisfied that the respondent’s case constituted “well-founded fear of future persecution on account of imputed political opinion.” Here, the court made a comparison with individuals “similarly situated to him” and concluded that the respondent’s fear is ‘objectively reasonable’. Finally, the court used its discretionary power in his favor because he has no records of criminal activities. This decision is one of the very first affirmative decisions by US courts regarding Gulen-related cases and number of such decisions is expected to rise as the applicants start to stand before the judge.

5. Overall Evaluation and Conclusion

Considering all the information above, it can be said that all four countries affirm the strict measures taken against the supporters of the Gulen Movement. These measures constitute clear violations of different human rights provisions that are internationally accepted. Striking points from the above-mentioned documents can be read as follows:

  1. Severe actions of the government are clearly targeting the supporters of the Movement. Thus, there is a high risk of persecution when these asylum seekers return to their home country of Turkey. The government’s actions so far amount to persecution based on one’s political opinion which is supporting the Gulen Movement (or at least not being against it explicitly). This is especially because the government does not care about whether a person has taken any role within the coup attempt or not, but only examines individuals’ contacts with the Movement.
  2. These people are seen as non-violent individuals who have not committed any crime throughout their lives. Looking at their ideology which is promoting moderate Islam together with values such as dialogue, tolerance, peace, democracy and human rights, there needs to be really strong and persuasive evidence than mere allegations to accuse them of being terrorists which could not have been found by the government despite all the efforts.
  3. The Gulen Movement promotes education for a long time since its establishment that it founded many schools and colleges both in Turkey and abroad as well as helped students in need to fund themselves. Therefore, it is no surprise that most of its members (especially the new generations) are well-educated. It can be said that these people might change the perception towards ‘refugees’ who are traditionally seen as uneducated. It can even be said that they will become assets in countries they seek asylum.

6.  Recommendations

Having in regard all these, as the Advocates of Silenced Turkey, we recommend decision makers and authorities who receive applications from Turkish asylum seekers to take into account the severity of the situation and the possible acts of the Turkish government when they return, which are explained above. Current situation in Turkey is quite worrying that many people have been trying to escape leaving everything behind, and thus asylum would be their only option to live freely in a safe country. We are urging any government concerned with human rights and fundamental freedoms to consider the significance of the asylum claims for those people as well as their families and lives.

[1] Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2017, 15 April 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58ff3e19f.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[2] Freedom House is a US based independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.

[3] UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, p. 137, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3be01b964.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[4] UN General Assembly, Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, 31 January 1967, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 606, p. 267, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3ae4.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[5] Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2016/17 – Norway, 22 February 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58b033c84.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[6] “Tightening of Norway’s asylum rules.” Government.no, 11 Jan. 2017, www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/immigration/asylum-regulations-in-norway/insight/tightening-of-norways-asylum-rules/id2465829/.

[7] Norway: Act of 15 May 2008 on the Entry of Foreign Nationals into the Kingdom of Norway and their Stay in the Realm (Immigration Act) [Norway], 15 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/507522792.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[8] Article 15 of the ECHR enables states to derogate from their obligations under the ECHR, however, Article 15 (2) specifies non-derogable rights as follows: “No derogation from Article 2 [right to life], except in respect of deaths resulting from lawful acts of war, or from Articles 3 [prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment], 4 (paragraph 1) [prohibition of slavery and servitude] and 7 [no punishment without law] shall be made under this provision.”

[9] Norway: GI-15/2017 Instructions on the practising of the Immigration Act, section 28 [Residence permit for foreign nationals in need of protection (asylum)] – Asylum seekers who cite the risk of persecution due to (alleged) links to the Gülen network, 12 Oct. 2017, available at: https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/gi-152017–instruks-om-praktisering-av-utlendingsloven–28–asylsokere-som-anforer-risiko-for-forfolgelse-pa-grunn-av-tillagt-tilknytning-til-gulen-nettverket/id2575439/?q=gi-15/2017

[10] Ibid.

[11] Austen, Ian. “In Canada, Justin Trudeau Says Refugees Are Welcome.” The New York Times, 28 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/world/canada/justin-trudeau-trump-refugee-ban.html.

[12] Canada: Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) [Canada], SC 2001, c. 27, 1 November 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0dc8f12.html [accessed 29 November 2017]

[13] IRPA, Cl. 3 (2) (d).

[14] IRPA, Cls. 3 (2) (e) & (f).

[15] IRPA, Cl. 96.

[16] IRPA, Cls. 115 (1) & (2).

[17] Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Turkey: The Fethullah Gulen Movement, including structure, areas of operation and activities; procedures for becoming a member; roles and responsibilities of membership; treatment of supporters; the Gulen Movement in Canada, including connections with organisations in Turkey and ability to confirm an individual’s involvement with the Gulen Movement in Turkey (2014-September 2016), 29 September 2016, TUR105626.E, available at: http://irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/ResRec/RirRdi/Pages/index.aspx?doc=456718 [accessed 27 November 2017]

[18] Sanchez, Ray. “Gulen discusses failed Turkey coup on ‘GPS’.” CNN, 31 July 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/07/31/world/fethullah-gulen-turkey-fareed-zakaria-gps/index.html.

[19] Responses to Information Requests, s. 5.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid., s. 6.

[23] Ibid.

[24] “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2017.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 22 Nov. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2017.aspx.

[25] “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2016.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 3 Aug. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2016.aspx.

[26] “Refugee Protection Claims (New System) by Country of Alleged Persecution – 2015.” Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 3 Aug. 2017, www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/Eng/RefClaDem/stats/Pages/RPDStat2015.aspx.

[27] Martin, Patrick. “Turkey’s Gulen crackdown hits Canada.” The Globe and Mail, 24 Mar. 2017, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/turkeys-gulen-crackdown-hits-canada/article32191633/.

[28] “The UK Asylum System – Truth About Asylum.” Refugee Council, www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/policy_research/the_truth_about_asylum/facts_about_asylum_-_page_5 [accessed 29 November 2017].

[29] “Refugee Law and Policy: United Kingdom.” Library of Congress, 21 June 2016, www.loc.gov/law/help/refugee-law/unitedkingdom.php [accessed 29 November 2017].

[30] 1951 Refugee Convention, Article 1A (2).

[31] United Kingdom: Home Office, Country Policy and Information Note – Turkey: Gülenism, April 2017, v 1.0, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58e798354.html [accessed 28 November 2017].

[32] Ibid., para. 4.1.1.

[33] Ibid., paras. 4.3, 5.3, 5.4.

[34] Ibid., para. 5.3.

[35] Ibid., paras. 2.2.15, 3.1.4.

[36] Ibid., para. 3.1.6.

[37] Ibid., para. 2.4.

[38] Ibid., para. 2.5.

[39] United Kingdom: Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 [United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland], 2002 Chapter 41, 7 November 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3de74e744.html [accessed 29 November 2017].

[40] Country Policy and Information Note – Turkey: Gülenism, paras. 2.2.14, 3.1.6.

[41] United States: Immigration and Nationality Act (last amended March 2004) [United States of America], 27 June 1952, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be4fe.html [accessed 29 November 2017].

[42] Spetalnick, Matt, and Julia Harte. “Cleric Gulen says he would not flee U.S. to avoid extradition to Turkey.” Reuters, 12 July 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-gulen-usa/cleric-gulen-says-he-would-not-flee-u-s-to-avoid-extradition-to-turkey-idUSKBN19W2VQ.

[43] United States Department of State, 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – Turkey, 3 March 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58ec89b3a.html [accessed 30 November 2017].

[44] Ibid., p. 1.

[45] Ibid., p. 9.

[46] Ibid., p. 17.

[47] Ibid., p. 18.

[48] Ibid., p. 20.

[49] Ibid., p. 29.

[50] Matter of S.B., United States Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), 7 November 2016.

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