EDIRNE, TURKEY, 2nd June 2023 – 30 of 104 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a religiously persecuted minority, who had presented themselves at the Turkish/Bulgarian border to seek asylum on Wednesday, report being heavily beaten, tortured and abused by the Turkish authorities in the Edirne deportation center in Turkey.
A Turkish court has released a deportation order concerning 103 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light from seven countries. Many of them, especially in Iran, will face imprisonment and may be executed if they are sent back to their country of origin.
Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) in Brussels calls upon the United Nations and in particular the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms Nazila Ghanea, the European Union and in particular the EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Mr Frans Van Daele, as well as the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Special Envoys on Freedom of Religion or Belief appointed in the United Kingdom and a number of EU Member States and the OSCE/ ODIHR to urge the Turkish authorities to cancel on appeal the decision of deportation. The deadline for the appeal is today.
First-hand video testimonies, voice recordings and photographs from the detained members detail the torture and abuse they have been subjected to at the hands of the Turkish authorities.
30 of the detained members, including 10 women and 2 children, report that they remain severely injured. Some have been requesting hospital visits, but were not granted any. One of the members, Redouane Foufa, from Algeria, reports being beaten in detention and injected with an unknown substance. He describes in a voice recording how the women and children were subjected to torture methods as well. They were deprived of food and water for three days, made to stand in the sun and deprived of sleep.
Hassan Oyandi, a member of the religion from Turkey, describes in a video testimony being heavily beaten, with photographs showing visible bruises and swellings on parts of his body.
Two UK amateur journalists, Sermad Al-Khafaji and Alexandra Foreman who had accompanied the group were also taken into custody. They were both accused of being British agents. Mrs. Foreman describes being held in very bad conditions. She mentions some members being forced to sign documents they did not understand and she was forced to witness a group being beaten in front of her. Sermad Al-Khafaji reports in a video testimony being very badly treated and severely beaten.
This is a clear violation of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code Article 148 which states that “any bodily or mental intervention such as misconduct, torture and administering medicines, exhausting falsification, physical coercion or threatening using certain equipment, is forbidden.”
These torture measures against our members are an outrageous violation of their human rights. We urge the international community to hold Turkey accountable for the torture and abuse of our members and to guarantee their protection and safety. We also are calling out to UNHCR and European Union to recommend them for resettlement.