Turkey will deport four Iranian refugees for protesting the country’s withdrawal from an international treaty to combat violence against women, Euronews Turkish service reported on Thursday.
The Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in March 2021 by pulling out from the treaty, a decision that formally came into force on July 1 and has drawn condemnation from world leaders, including US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and international and regional organizations and rights groups, in addition to prompting protests across the country.
Refugees Leili Faraji, Zeinab Sahafi, Esmaeil Fattahi and Mohammad Pourakbari Kermani were detained on April 5 for attending a protest against Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention in western Denizli province on March 20, according to Euronews, which added that Kermani was detained although he didn’t attend the demonstration.
The refugees were then sent to the Aydın provincial deportation center on April 6.
Fattahi on Thursday told Euronews that they faced pressure to sign papers for voluntary deportation at the center in Aydın, before they were sent to other deportation centers in different provinces.
Fattahi added that although they were released due to public pressure, they could be deported at any moment.
Although the refugees objected to the Denizli Governor’s Office’s decision to deport them, it was rejected by an administrative court in the province, Euronews said.
“I am a political refugee. I was detained and tortured many times because of my human rights activities in my own country. I applied for asylum when I came to Turkey due to my activities against … the regime in Iran. … I continued … [attending similar] activities in Turkey,” Fattahi explained.
“Problems regarding women’s rights don’t fit into the borders, the same problems also exist in Iran. We exercised our constitutional right [to attend a demonstration in Turkey]. And we see that women and trans people are murdered in Turkey as well. Homophobia [also] exists [here],” the refugee added.
Fattahi also said that being sent back to Iran would amount to more pressure and torture since some Iranian political refugees who had earlier been deported had even been sentenced to death.