24 June, 2024

Persecuted Minority Members Report Torture and Abuse by Turkish Authorities

On Wednesday, 30 out of 104 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a persecuted religious minority, presented themselves at the Turkish/Bulgarian border seeking asylum. They have since reported severe beatings, torture, and abuse at the hands of the Turkish authorities while detained in the Edirne deportation center in Turkey.

A Turkish court has issued a deportation order for 103 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light from seven different countries. Many of these individuals, particularly those from Iran, would face imprisonment and even execution if returned to their home country.

Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) in Brussels is urging the United Nations, specifically the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms. Nazila Ghanea, the European Union, particularly the EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Mr. Frans Van Daele, as well as the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Special Envoys on Freedom of Religion or Belief in the United Kingdom and several EU Member States, and the OSCE/ODIHR to call upon the Turkish authorities to overturn the deportation decision. The deadline for the appeal is today.

First-hand testimonies, voice recordings, and photographs from the detained members provide detailed accounts of the torture and abuse they have endured at the hands of the Turkish authorities.

Among the 30 detained members, including 10 women and 2 children, many report severe injuries. Some have requested medical attention but have been denied. Redouane Foufa from Algeria describes being beaten and injected with an unknown substance. He also recounts how women and children were subjected to torture methods, including deprivation of food and water for three days, exposure to the sun, and sleep deprivation.

Hassan Oyandi, a member from Turkey, shares a video testimony detailing the heavy beatings he suffered, with photographs showing visible bruises and swelling on his body.

Two UK amateur journalists, Sermad Al-Khafaji and Alexandra Foreman, who accompanied the group, have also been taken into custody. They were accused of being British agents. Mrs. Foreman describes being held in very poor conditions and witnessing a group being beaten in front of her. Sermad Al-Khafaji reports severe mistreatment and beatings in his video testimony.

These acts constitute a clear violation of Article 148 of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits any bodily or mental intervention such as misconduct, torture, administering medicines, falsification, physical coercion, or threatening using certain equipment.

The torture and abuse inflicted upon these individuals are blatant human rights violations. It is imperative for the international community to hold Turkey accountable for these acts and ensure the safety and protection of the persecuted minority members. We call upon UNHCR and the European Union to recommend them for resettlement.


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