The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), an international umbrella organization for human rights, has called on Pakistani government not to deport 289 Turkish citizens to Turkey as they have been granted asylum certificates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In a letter sent to the President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi, the FIDH said that there are cdredible allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against those who were arrested or detained by the Turkish government.
“The 289 Turkish citizens have faced forcible expulsion from Pakistan and repatriation to Turkey since 20 November 2016. Despite the suspension of the initial deportation order by the Pakistani courts, we understand that the Pakistani government is again considering their deportation. The 289 Turkish citizens are teachers associated with the Pak-Turk Schools, along with their families,” stated in the letter.
Underlining the fact that the 289 Turkish citizens are currently under protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), FIDH has said that “They have been granted ‘Asylum Seeker Certificates’, which specifically state that they should be protected from forcible return to a country where they claim to face threats to their life or freedom. These certificates are not due to expire until November 2017.”
The letter came several days after Turkish teacher Mesut Kaçmaz, his wife Meral Kaçmaz along with their two children were deported by the Pakistani gov’t to Turkey early on Saturday over their alleged links to the Gülen group, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt last year. The couple and their children were reportedly blindfolded and forcefully put on an unmarked flight from Islamabad to İstanbul in the morning of October 14.Taken away from their apartment in Lahore in the middle of the night on Sept 27, Kacmaz family had been staying in Pakistan for over a year on UN’s asylum seeker certificate. The Pakistani government earlier asked teachers working at the schools affiliated with the Gulen movement to leave the country at Turkey’s request.
The letter has continued as follow:
“The forcible repatriation of the 289 in breach of their UNHCR protection would likely expose them to the risk of persecution or other serious human rights abuses on the part of the Turkish authorities. The risk is particularly high in light of the climate of repression in Turkey following the July 2016 failed coup. The repression has targeted all voices critical of the government. Teachers, academics, human rights defenders, and journalists have been routinely subjected to arbitrary arrests and acts of judicial harassment, including investigations and prosecutions, on the grounds of their alleged links to the coup organizers. Credible allegations of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against those who were arrested or detained also surfaced.
“As a result, their forcible repatriation would amount to a serious violation of international law. In particular, it would breach Pakistan’s obligations under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which stipulates that ‘[n]o State Party shall expel, return (“refouler“) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.’”