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Iranian Kurdish Refugees' Committee gravely concern about prospective of kurdish refugees in Turkey what looms fatally

28 June 2005
press release
compiled by Iranian Kurdish Refugees' Committee in Turkey
The over thousand Iranian Kurds who are being targeted have all previously resided in Iraq, most of them for many years. They are all recognized as political refugees by the UNHCR. When they came to Turkey in 2001-2002, most were already destitute due to years of living as refugees. They fled Iraq because they were under security threats there and resettlement, UNHCR.s principal instrument of protection for Iranians in this unstable and dangerous region, had long since come to a stand-still. Since their arrival in Turkey, they have not been properly assisted and protected by the government nor by the UNHCR. Moreover both organs have subjected them to collective punishment measures. Implementing a peremptory .irregular mover. policy, UNHCR, the agency mandated to protect and treat refugees humanely, has denied the group all possible protection and assistance for some or all of their stay. This includes refusal to register them, provide them with financial and medical support, resettle them in third countries, and even intervene on their behalf when they have been refouled to Iran by the Turkish police, the gravest possible breach of international refugee law. Except for two windows in 1995-1996 and 2000, UNHCR has been implementing its "irregular mover" policy in Turkey since 1992.

During this period, the Turkish government has closely shadowed UNHCR policy, denying temporary residence permits to refugees and even systematically deporting them whenever UNHCR has labeled them "irregular movers" and refused them resettlement assistance. The Turkish government has, however, granted refugees temporary stay whenever UNHCR has agreed to resettle them. As a result, in the last three years, these refugees have been regarded as .illegal immigrants. and threatened with refoulement every day.

Before the March 2003 US-UK war began in Iraq, UNHCR was issuing formal "irregular mover" decisions to these refugees and endorsing their deportation to Iraq. But since then UNHCR has ceased this and since the overthrow of Saddam.s regime in Iraq, it has officially recommended that all states, including Turkey, maintain a ban on the forced return of any person to Iraq. But then, on August 30, 2003, Turkish police in Van randomly arrested nineteen of the refugees and refouled them to Iran in a matter of hours. In November 2003, fifty-three more of the refugees were detained for a week by the police in Van and threatened with deportation. As reported, the same month, UNHCR and the government finally began .consultations. to find a "solution" for the refugees. The exact details of these talks are still kept under wraps. But in December 2003, UNHCR finally granted all more than thousand members of this refugee group refugees formal refugee status papers. Four months later, in April 2004, the Turkish Ministry of Interior gave refugees permission to relocate to about dozen provincial towns in central Anatolia and to apply for residence permits. But once refugees approached the local police in their new designated provincial towns, they were confronted with exorbitant fees in order to receive their residence permits. There, they also found out that their status was "yabanci" [foreigner] and not "siginmaci" [asylum-seeker]. Until then, they were unaware that, by not being a .siginmaci. they were also excluded from the fundamental protection against refoulement.

An April 12, 2004 Ministry of Interior documentation [see Appendix I] communicated by local police to each adult refugee expressly listed what they were NOT entitled to [emphasis added]:

They shall NOT be considered as alien or refugee whose asylum claim is under consideration.

They shall NOT be entitled to health benefits, provided to refugees or asylum-seekers.

The proceedings for their resettlement in a third country shall NOT be carried out.

They shall be expelled from the country should they engage in unlawful acts.

They or their family members shall NOT be protected from expulsion whether or not they are registered with UNHCR.

Legal fees shall be required of them under the Law of Legal Fees No.492, half value shall be taken for those under the age of 18, retroactive fees shall not be taken for the past periods, but according to Law of Valuable Papers No.210, the cost for the permit shall be taken.

According to the written warnings inside the Residence Permit, any changes in address and marital status and any traveling away from the province shall be notified rapidly to security offices.

The granting of residence permits in Turkey is the result of our country.s good intention towards them. In this context, in the period residing in our country, they shall NOT possess attitudes and commit acts against public order, public health, public morality and national security.

In case they do not obey the aforementioned, their residence permits shall NOT be extended and shall be revoked even if they have valid time left in them and they shall BE EXPELLED AS ALIENS ILLEGALLY STAYING in our country.

Many of the refugees still do not know the fundamental entitlements that they have been excluded from because they do not know the Turkish language and the document has not been translated to them. Nor has UNHCR explained to them the hazards of this dodgy residence permit, much less the reasons behind it.
UNHCR branch of Turkey accepted this group as Refugee at 2004 and subsequently facilitated them to transfer to Anadolian cities.

At first was deemed that this changes go forward and pave resettlement, but unluckily all of these hopes, wasted our breath.

Hither to we have had gatherings opposite UNHCRs gate in Ankara to attract International attention to our critical situation but unfortunately UN in collusion with police raided the gatherings and delivered them to Court, for instance, 25 refugees from this group delivered to Court in Aksaray 200 km from capitalbecause they participated in the complaints.

Furthermore they have to refer to police station for their daily signature and police should check them up every day and refugees havent permit to earn money for their life or working, however UN refused them as financial assistance.

Last week when one of refugee in Kaiseri couldnt present at on time to introduce himself to police station; police arrested him and wildly raided and mugged him.

the International Community mandate UNHCR to find durable solution for refugees: voluntarily repatriation, local integration and resettlement are ways which UN follows them due to circumstances. It is patently obvious that the first and second ones are impossible for us; therefore the only way what is reasonable and ahead of us, tabloid in resettlement.

However this 1200 Iranian Kurdish Political refugees had many times sit-in and strikes against UNHCR's decision for removal prejudice and reach to their rights via resettlement in Van opposite of UNHCR's gate, but because of interference and raiding of Turkish authorities the gathering broke up or menaced to deport enforced.

The discrimination policies of UNHCR in Turkey and their illegally action about this group breach of basic refugee's rights what approved in Convention and Protocol. These refugees who struggled against autocracy and tyranny for establishing a democratic society; have been deliberately neglected by UNHCR Office in Ankara. Separately, other groups Iranian or others have been welcomed by UNHCR and their affairs arranged in short time. Especially when asylum seekers who depended on Iranian so-called Reformist Wing referred to the Office, UNHCR summarily accept them and deliver their dossier to third country for resettlement.

Iranian ex-Northern Iraqi Refugees; in conclusion of UNHCR's cruel policies practically have been stamped out all their rights and premeditate thrown to Nadir condition and deadlock situation for 4 years.
These oppressed 1200 refugees need and ask European Union Patriotic, Progressive, Liberal, and Philanthropist Organizations, Correspondents, Journalists, and Human Rights Sources to defend and support them and pres UNHCR branch of Turkey and general Office in Geneva to:

Put an end to 4 years suspending of this Iranian Kurdish Political Refugees and in respect of this group's destiny, UNHCR conduct its activities with maximum transparency and impartiality and keep International Community fully informed about the situation of this Iranian Refugees; without prejudice from other nationalities.

2. Hold UNHCR accountable for its instrumental role in protecting and finding permanent solution for this vulnerable group via resettlement as outlined above, and remove its obstacle against this community.
3. Urge the Turkish government to respect its responsibilities and obligations toward these refugees and to cooperate with other government in finding durable solution for them.
Please send your letters to:
Minister of the Interior Representative
Mr. Abdulkadir Aksu Ms. Gesche Karrenbrock
Ministry of Interior UNHCR Turkey
IÁisleri Bakanligi 12 Cadessi 212 Sokak No: 3
06644 Ankara, TURKEY Sancak Mah. 06550 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: 90-312-418-1795 Fax: 90-312-441-2376
very thanks for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely Yours:
Iranian Kurdish Refugees' Committee in Turkey
Sources:
1. Iranian Refugees' Alliance,INC Publication
2. Iranian Kurdish Refugees' Committee Notification on 6 June 2005
3. Iranian ex-Northern Iraqi Refugees have remained in Limbo without any clear horizon for 4 years in Turkey, written by Sardar Rahimi on February 2005