(en) protest at turkish consulate, nyc - 24 march

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Sat, 22 Mar 1997 16:17:39 GMT


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dear friends,

i hope you can make it, and please forward and pass the word. thanks.

ken toloui kamran@dorsai.org committee for humanitarian assistance to iranian refugees (chair) chair@dorsai.org

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: 20 Mar 97 10:21:56 EST From: C.H.A.I.R. <103114.731@CompuServe.COM> To: CHAIR <103114.731@CompuServe.COM> Subject: Copy of: URGENT CAMPAIGN

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From: C.H.A.I.R., 103114,731 TO: CHAIR, 103114,731 DATE: 3/19/97 11:43 AM

RE: Copy of: URGENT CAMPAIGN

March 17, 1997

Dear friend,

As you can see from the following press release, the situation of Iranian refugees in Turkey is extremely perilous. Your support through participating in our Monday, March 24 demonstration and sending protest letters to the government of Turkey is vitally important. I urge you to support the refugees' struggle and protest the Turkish government's violations of refugee rights. A closing of borders in Turkey will severely diminish already limited access to safe havens for Iranian political opponents. Welfare and immigration "reform" in this country prove that the assault on refugee rights is a global one and only a global protest movement that fights on all fronts can push back the offensive.

Join our protest in New York City which will be held on Monday March 24 at 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. at the Turkish Consulate located at 821 UN Plaza (46th Street and 1st Avenue, Manhattan).

Furthermore, send protest letters to Turkish government officials with copies to the Turkish embassy in your country.

Sample letter follows.

Please also fax all copies of your protest letters and resolutions to me at 212-425-7260. Thanks,

Maryam Namazie International Federation of Iranian Refugees and Immigrants Councils (IFIRIC) - Turkey branches and International Relations (The Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees (CHAIR) is a member of IFIRIC)

**PRESS RELEASE**

Turkish Government's Massive Assault on Iranian Refugees Condemned

International Iranian Refugee Organization Launches Campaign Against the Turkish Government's Plan to Deport Hundreds

For Immediate Release Tuesday, March 18, 1997

Contact: Maryam Namazie, New York, NY Phone: (212) 747-1046 (Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) (Please leave a message at this number after office hours and weekends and your call will be returned.) Fax: 212-425-7260

The International Federation of Iranian Refugees and Immigrant Councils (IFIRIC) is launching an international campaign against the Turkish government to protest its unprecedented offensive against Iranian refugees and to demand that government's adherence to internationally recognized refugee standards. IFIRIC is calling on all groups and individuals to join this protest movement. The campaign will begin on March 24 at 12:00 noon with demonstrations or sit-ins at various Turkish embassies and consulates in tens of countries around the world. IFIRIC will simultaneously solicit protest letters and support resolutions.

The campaign is in response to the Turkish government's plan to deport hundreds. In less than one week, from March 8 to March 14, the Turkish government has already deported sixty-six Iranian refugees recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Zakho, Iraq. The Iranian government's extensive surveillance and assassination machinery in chaotic Iraqi Kurdistan makes Iraq as dangerous as Iran for opponents of the Iranian government. The Turkish government has also issued deportation orders against 600 others and is conducting sweeping house searches in order to seize and deport refugees. Furthermore, the government has issued a general order that all those deemed "illegal" be deported from Turkey.

The Turkish government's attack on Iranian refugees continues to sacrifice the lives of countless individuals for economic and political gain. Although Turkey is a party to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, it has limited its international obligations by maintaining a geographical reservation, thereby diminishing responsibility toward non-European refugees. On November 30, 1994, the Turkish government issued a regulation, Decision Number 94/6169, formalizing its discrimination: accordingly, the Turkish government must first determine whether an Iranian is an "asylum seeker" (as opposed to a "refugee" who also has a well founded fear of persecution but is of European origin) before s/he may present her/his claim to the UNHCR.

Furthermore, the November 1994 regulation requires Iranians arriving without passports to file their "asylum" claims at the location nearest where they entered the country within five-days. Thus, undocumented Iranians, many of whom are Kurdish, are required to return from Ankara (where the UNHCR is located) to southeastern Turkey - a military zone where a twelve year war rages on between the government and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) - to register their claims with local police officials.

Despite the regulation, Iranian refugees are refusing to acquiesce to the Turkish government's unjust laws and are being deemed "illegal" for not going to the dangerous border area and not meeting the five-day deadline. According to Payman, an IFIRIC refugee activist in Turkey: "Refugees reject the Turkish government's claim that they have failed to respect Turkish laws. Iranian refugees fleeing the fascist government of Iran have not come to Turkey to ignore that country's laws. It is the inhumane and intolerable violations refugees face upon arrival that force their non-compliance. The refusal to acquiesce will continue until Turkish laws guarantee the lives and security of refugees and respect international standards."

The refugees are overwhelmingly justified in their defiance, especially in light of the many pledges between the Iranian and Turkish governments to wage a campaign against members of each other's opposition. Ongoing meetings between the two countries' officials, especially most recently, point to a new phase of "understanding" between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamicist government of Turkey. Over a dozen assassinations by Iranian government agents in Turkey since the mid-80s add to the danger. Moreover, during "asylum" interviews, Iranians must give reasons for their flight to the Turkish police - the same police who routinely act with impunity against refugees as well as Turkish nationals, perpetrating deportations, viscious beatings, political killings, torture, summary executions, and arbitrary detentions. Those Iranian refugees who have presented themselves to the Turkish police have told IFIRIC that they believe that the purpose of the "asylum" interviews is to collect information which will be divulged to the Iranian authorities upon deportation. During "asylum" interviews, many refugees report that the police often link Iranians Kurds with the PKK, and threaten claimants with deportation or tell them to return to Iran.

Even those who have complied with the Turkish government's regulation are not free from the threat of deportation. In August 1996, 21 Iranian asylum seekers (20 of whom were Baha'is) went to Agri (a town bordering Iran) to apply for asylum with the police within the five-day limit after registering with the UNHCR in Ankara. They were "disappeared." According to a UNHCR fact sheet, one eyewitness stated that his "attention was drawn to the incident as the women and children were crying, screaming and begging officers not to deport them." Many refugees have recently told IFIRIC that upon applying for asylum in Silopi (a border town), the Turkish police visciously beat them and coerced bribes in order to cease deportations. The regulation's purpose is clearly to facilitate the deportation of Iranian refugees under the guise of [il]legalities. By instituting a five-day limit, to which adherence is practically impossible for many refugees, and requiring the undocumented to return to the unsafe border area, the government hopes to meet its end of the bargain with the Iranian government. Although Turkey has limited its international obligations toward non-European asylum seekers, it is obligated to respect the right of refugees not to be forcibly returned to a country where they may face persecution (non-refoulement). Successive Turkish governments have demonstrated that they are willing to sacrifice this essential international obligation for the Iranian government's collaboration in fighting the Kurdish opposition in Turkey. An August 1996 multi-billion dollar natural gas deal with Iran is another example of the Turkish government's profit-making motives.

The objective of the international campaign is to demonstrate to the Turkish government that it cannot covertly conduct political negotiations with the Iranian government at the expense of refugee lives and security. IFIRIC is demanding that the Turkish government:

1. Cease deportations immediately;

2. Make immediate, interim, administrative changes to improve regulation Decision Number 94/6169, including: - abolishing the five-day limit, and - lifting the rule requiring the undocumented to apply for asylum with the police station nearest their point of entry and allow them to apply in their town of residence;

3. Provide temporary residence to all asylum seekers;

4. Issue exit visas to all refugees accepted for third country resettlement;

5. Monitor police conduct; and,

6. Allow the UNHCR to carry out its mandate and defer to UNHCR when that body recognizes a person as a refugee.

###End###

RESOLUTION AFTER MARCH 24 PROTESTS TO TURKISH GOVERNMENT

Given that the Turkish government has conducted an unprecedented offensive against the most basic Iranian refugee rights; Given that hundreds of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-recognized refugees have been deported; Given that the Turkish government has issued deportation orders against 600 other refugees; Given that the Turkish government has allowed its police to behave visciously; and, Given that the Turkish government refuses to respect basic international standards;

We protesters declare our opposition to the government's violations of refugee rights and demand an end to such violations. The following are our immediate demands:

Cease deportations immediately; Make immediate, interim, administrative changes to improve regulation Decision Number 94/6169, including: - abolishing the five-day limit, and - lifting the rule requiring the undocumented to apply for asylum with the police station nearest their point of entry and allow them to apply in their town of residence; Provide temporary residence to all asylum seekers; Issue exit visas to all refugees accepted for third country resettlement; Monitor police conduct; and, Allow the UNHCR to carry out its mandate and defer to UNHCR when that body recognizes a person as a refugee.

This assembly is placing the government of Turkey on notice and will give it one month to meet our demands. Should the situation remain unchanged after this month, that government will be confronted with unprecedented opposition.

The International Federation of Iranian Refugees and Immigrants Councils (IFIRIC) March 16, 1997

SAMPLE LETTER

(date) Minister Mehmet Agar Minister of Interior Icisleri Bakaligi 06644 Ankara, Turkey Via fax: 011-90-312-417-2390 Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan Basbakanlik 06573 Ankara, Turkey Via fax: 011-90-312-417-0476 Minister of Foreign Affairs Tansu Ciller Disisleri Bakanligi 06100 Ankara, Turkey 011-90-312-419-1547

Dear Minister,

I am writing to condemn the Turkish government's recent deportation of numerous Iranian refugees and demand that the government:

Cease deportations immediately;

Make immediate, interim, administrative changes to improve regulation Decision Number 94/6169, including: - abolishing the five-day limit, and - lifting the rule requiring the undocumented to apply for asylum with the police station nearest their point of entry and allow them to apply in their town of residence;

Provide temporary residence to all asylum seekers;

Issue exit visas to all refugees accepted for third country resettlement;

Monitor police conduct; and,

Allow the UNHCR to carry out its mandate and defer to UNHCR when that body recognizes a person as a refugee.

Sincerely,

Name Organization

Copies can be sent to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC or embassies in other countries. In the United States, the embassy copy can be sent to: Ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir Turkish Embassy 1714 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 Via fax: 202-296-5660

THANKS FOR YOUR SOLIDARITY. Call me for more information, Maryam Namazie

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