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Austrian Kurd detained at Turkish airport for criticizing Erdoğan on social media

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Ümit S, a Kurd born in Turkey holding Austrian citizenship, was banned from Turkey for five years for criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ankara’s Kurdish policy on Facebook, Kurdistan 24 reported, citing a story by Kronen Zeitung.

Ümit S, 32, was planning to go to his uncle’s funeral. But when he arrived at the airport with his girlfriend, the police were already waiting for him and took them both into custody.

They took his phone and extracted all its data, he claimed. People had apparently reported his posts to the Turkish authorities.

In the end, they spent four days in jail before being deported. “Now, I am not allowed to enter [Turkey] for five years,” he said.

He had shared critical German TV reports on the Kurdish policy of “Sultan Erdoğan” on his personal Facebook page.

“There were no windows and miserable sanitary conditions. There were also families with children. Women and men were separated first. After one day, I was allowed to be in a cell with my girlfriend because there was not enough space,” he said.

It is not the first time Turkey has detained Kurds for critical social media posts.

In early July two British Kurds, Ayman Barzan and Hariam Barzan, were detained at the Dalaman airport for sharing Facebook posts in support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian-based People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey labels both groups as “terrorists.”

The two brothers were in Turkey planning to visit their sister, who had come from the country’s southeastern region. It is unclear if they are still under detention or released.

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