What is happening in Aşkale Repatriation Center?

NGOs working on refugees released a press statement about Aşkale Repatriation Center, where the refugees are completely isolated. NGOs made a call to Turkey's Directorate of General of Migration Management for stopping treating the refugees as criminals and providing them the right to access justice.

Aşkale Repatriation Center was established in Erzurum in autumn and the condition of the refugees there remains uncertain. From the day it was established, NGOs, lawyers and families of the refugees haven't been allowed to enter the center and it is claimed that there have been grave violations of human rights in the center. 

On December 28, special operation forces raided the center, because there was a “revolt”. According to Dicle News Agency's report, the family of Dilo Derviş from Rojava, who committed suicide on the day of the police raid, claimed that their son was killed during the raid. In the news report, it is also claimed that this repatriation center, where Yezidis and people from Rojava stay, functions like a punishment center. 

NGOs like Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Human Right Foundation (IHD), Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER), Amnesty International Turkey Branch, International Turkistani Foundation, International Lawyers' Association released a public statement about the violations in Aşkale. 

“Isolation because of suspicion of terrorism”  

NGOs stated that national and international obligations aren't fulfilled in Aşkale which was built with the financial support of EU. According to the law, “foreigners have the right to meet their relatives, notaries, legal representatives and lawyers, also they have the right to access phone services” and NGOs pointed out that these rights have been violated:

“People aren't allowed to use cell phones or pay phones; they are prevented from meeting their relatives, lawyers and notaries. As stated in the complaint petitions filed by the lawyers in different times, the lawyers cannot access the files of their clients. People are isolated because of suspicion of terrorism, though there are no investigations against those people. Their rights have been violated.”

“People were put in cold cells with chains”

Stating that they cannot get information about the health condition of the people in the center and whether a certain person is there or not, NGOs pointed out that the people in the center were subjected to violence during the police raid on December 28: “Some of them were gravely beaten; the people who are thought be the suspects of the revolt were put in cold cells with chains and weren't given meal occasionally. It was claimed that some of them were transferred to other repatriation centers on December 30, but we couldn't have confirmed this claim. Lawyers cannot get information about their clients. The officials refused the lawyers' offerings of help of any kind.”

Lawyer Ataman: an independent committee should carry an investigation 

One of the lawyers of Helsinki Citizens' Association, Hakan Ataman spoke to Agos and stated that Aşkale has a terrible record: “Lawyers cannot meet with their clients. Since there is a problem in accessing justice, we cannot make any observations.” Saying that they have no medical reports or reports of observation about December 28, Ataman stated: “As far as we know and observe, Aşkale became a punishment center.” Ataman also said that an independent committee should carry an investigation on Aşkale Repatriation Center. 


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Gözde Kazaz