Human Rights, Solidarity with Refugees

ICRIR PRESS RELEASE: Refugee Advocacy Coalition Demands UNHCR Stop Violating Rights of Iranian and Other Asylum-Seekers in Turkey


Iranian and other refugees in Turkey continue to suffer repeated violations of basic human rights by the UN Refugee Agency as well as the Turkish government. In response, several Iranian advocacy organizations have formed a coalition to demand prima facie refugee status for Iranian refugees as well as immediate cessation of abuse of fundamental rights of Iranian and other asylum seekers.

Philadelphia, PA, December 6, 2010 — Iranians fleeing violent repression in their home country have long crossed the border into Turkey seeking refuge. In the wake of the 2009 post-election uprising and subsequent crackdown, a new wave of Iranian refugees has poured across the border: victims of rape, torture, and political repression. According to international law, these refugees are entitled to asylum, protection, and no forced return under the auspices of United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). However, refugees in Turkey continue to suffer repeated violations of those rights by UNHCR as well as the Turkish government.

Asylum applications take far too long to process, living conditions for asylum-seekers are untenable, Iranian refugees in Turkey are subject to abuse and violence by both Turkish police as well as agents of the Islamic Republic, and many refugees are denied official status without cause.

In response to these violations, several Iranian advocacy groups have formed a coalition to demand, alongside Iranian refugees in Turkey, that the rights of Iranian and other refugees be fully recognized by UNHCR and the Turkish government.  The coalition will work both inside and outside Turkey to bring world attention to the abusive practices of both UNHCR and the Turkish government, and to force these entities to comply with asylum-seekers’ fundamental human right to refuge.

Given the objective and internationally recognized condition of widespread and violent government repression in Iran, the primary demand of the coalition is the designation of Iranian asylum seekers as prima facie refugees. Until that designation is conferred, the coalition demands that the processing of Iranian and other asylum seekers in Turkey be immediately improved to ensure fair, efficient, and transparent processing of individual cases, with UNHCR and the Turkish government held fully accountable for their respective responsibilities.

Organizations in the coalition include the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, the Iranian Refugee Action Network, the Iranian Refugee Amnesty Network, Mission Free Iran, and TDCAU.

Soheila Nikpour
Maria Rohaly
International Coalition for the Rights of Iranian Refugees
phone: 202.630.0385

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