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Sen­tenced to prison fol­low­ing an absurd and relent­less tri­al, the Kur­dish jour­nal­ist Nuri Akman was forced to leave Turkey. On the night of Novem­ber 19, Roma­nia attempt­ed to expel him, despite his request for asy­lum, along with some fifty oth­er migrants, includ­ing two oth­er Kur­dish polit­i­cal refugees. 35 of the 50 migrants arrest­ed dur­ing a police raid on a Timisoara hotel were expelled. The expul­sion of jour­nal­ist Nuri Akman, of Kur­dish polit­i­cal fig­ures Lok­man Çoşkun, Ser­dar Bil­giç and of two oth­er Kur­dish asy­lum seek­ers from Turkey was inter­rupt­ed at the last minute, because of the resis­tance of the ones con­cerned but also thanks to a chain of sol­i­dar­i­ty that was acti­vat­ed rapid­ly and which proved effective.

In March 2019, jour­nal­ist Nuri Akman went up before the judge for the first time along with his col­league Erdoğan Alayu­mat, both accused of “trea­son and espi­onnage” along with “belong­ing to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion”, for hav­ing pho­tographed a res­i­dence sus­pect­ed to house head­quar­ters of the Turk­ish intel­li­gence (MIT). The tri­bunal’s ver­dict was both an acquit­tal from these accu­sa­tions and …the re-open­ing of a new inquest for the same motives… This new tri­al end­ed with the pro­nounce­ment of a sen­tence of 6 years and 3 months in prison. The Court of Appeals annulled the deci­sion. In 2020, a new tri­al was opened, always on the same grounds, and a first hear­ing was announced for Novem­ber 21. An order for Nuri Akman’s arrest was dis­patched. Faced with such relent­less­ness, the jour­nal­ist was forced to leave Turkey…

Nuri Akman man­aged to reach Greece and filed a request for asy­lum there. How­ev­er, in the con­text of the coun­try’s ongo­ing eco­nom­ic cri­sis, con­di­tions for asy­lum seek­ers in Greek refugee camps are extreme­ly dif­fi­cult and aid ter­ri­bly lim­it­ed. Devoid of a work per­mit, fac­ing a delay reach­ing two, three, or even four years, becomes unten­able. Nuri Akman then attempt­ed to reach anoth­er Euro­pean coun­try. Along with oth­er Kur­dish migrants, includ­ing Lok­man Çoşkun, Ser­dar Bil­giç, he passed through Mace­do­nia, then Ser­bia before arriv­ing in Romania.

On Novem­ber 13, fol­low­ing a police oper­a­tion in a Timisoara hotel, 50 migrants were arrest­ed. Secu­ri­ty forces held them for 6 hours in the cold in front of the hotel, hands cuffed behind the back.

They were first tak­en to a deten­tion cen­ter near Timisoara where they spent 2 ays with­out food or water. They were then trans­ferred to a reten­tion cen­ter in Arad. Accord­ing to the tes­ti­mo­ny of those migrants we could con­tact, “a long trip with hands cuffed in the back” was fol­lowed by body searches.

Y.S., one of the young Kurds who was expelled, tes­ti­fies: “First they took us to an Inter­pol cen­ter, where they kept us wait­ing for a few more hours, hand­cuffed in the cold. Then, for two days, we were held with­out food or water. Our requests for a lawyer were denied and the asy­lum request we had filed did not appear in the sys­tem. What’s more, a trans­la­tor threat­ened us, say­ing “you are going to be killed”.

After two days in this place, we were trans­ferred to a reten­tion cen­ter in the town of Arad. It was like a prison. A build­ing with tiny cells. There, they locked us into cells and tor­tured us with trun­cheons. It is an inhu­man treat­ment. We could hear chil­dren’s voic­es in the low­er storeys. There was also a young minor of 17 years.

Four days lat­er, the Roman­ian author­i­ties told them they would be trans­ferred to a camp in Bucarest: “We set out in the morn­ing, and it was only when we arrived at the ter­mi­nal that we under­stood we were at Bucarest air­port. They had lied to us”, tes­ti­fied some of them… S.Y.‘s ver­sion con­firms this: “On the morn­ing of Novem­ber 18, they told us they were tak­ing us to anoth­er camp in Bucarest and had us climb into a bus. When we arrived in the evening, we were at the airport.” 

All of the 35 peo­ple were forced to board the plane. Some of the migrants, still in pos­ses­sion of their iden­ti­ty papers, were refused the right to request asy­lum for this rea­son. Some board­ed the plane. Five of them resist­ed: Nuri Akman, Lok­man Çoskun, Serbest Derin„ the young Y.S. and an old man. Y.S. con­tin­ues: “Despite the fact that we were telling them we want­ed to request asy­lum, they put us aboard the plane. The old uncle and I had our iden­ti­ty papers, so they used vio­lence to force us aboard the plane.” Suf­fer­ing from chron­ic ill­ness and giv­en his age, the old man could not resist any longer and was put aboard the plane. As for the young Y.S. he says: “Some­one hit me on the back of the head, I faint­ed and when I came to, I was on the plane.”

Nuri Akman, Lok­man Çoskun and Serbest Derin took the risk to go on receiv­ing blows and to con­tin­ue resist­ing. At the same time, informed of these hap­pen­ings, a num­ber of col­leagues react­ed, com­mu­ni­cat­ed the news and denounced these occur­rences of vio­lence in Roma­nia on social net­works: with ongo­ing request for asy­lum, that can­not be sent back to Turkey. Their expul­sion is total­ly ille­gal. A lawyer was expe­dit­ed to the air­port, but he was not autho­rized to see them, nor giv­en any information.

This morn­ing, we learn that Nuri Akman, Lok­man Çoskun and Serbest Derin have been sent to a reten­tion camp near Bucarest. Thus, they are togeth­er and in good health. Their request for asy­lum will be processed by Romania.

In oth­er words: to be continued…

A per­son request­ing asy­lum is a per­son who claims to be a refugee but has not yet obtained this sta­tus in the coun­try where he or she request to be wel­comed”. This is a def­i­n­i­tion rec­og­nized by Roma­nia, a State under the rule of law, mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union. This being the case, it is bound by the con­ven­tions it has signed, even if the text rel­a­tive to the right of asy­lum (Law 122/2006, art. 4) has been mod­i­fied. Roma­nia is not a coun­try of the Euro­pean Union expe­ri­enc­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly heavy influx of asy­lum seek­ers. Very few migrants remain on Roman­ian territory.

In order to obtain refugee sta­tus in Roma­nia, the per­sons request­ing asy­lum must first under­go an admin­is­tra­tive peri­od involv­ing the analy­sis of the per­son­al file along with indi­vid­ual inter­views. If the asy­lum request is denied, they may under­go a judi­cia­ry process for the eval­u­a­tion of their sit­u­a­tion by the prop­er author­i­ties. Dur­ing this eval­u­a­tion process, asy­lum seek­ers are shel­tered in res­i­dences and receive med­ical assis­tance along with a month­ly allowance of approx­i­mate­ly 30 euros – an amount large­ly insuf­fi­cient for a decent stan­dard of liv­ing: they are not allowed to work.

One mea­sures the extent to which the “texts” diverge from the prac­tice, in Roma­nia as else­where, and espe­cial­ly the ille­gal­i­ty of prac­tices refus­ing to instruct the request and pro­ceed­ing to force­ful expul­sion, as was the case.

The iden­ti­tar­i­an ten­sions in the Euro­pean States that have led to the clos­ing of routes for exile, at the cost of tens of thou­sands of deaths, and that have hand­ed part of the keys to the Turk­ish regime, lead to the lack of respect of all com­mit­ments made in the Gene­va Con­ven­tion. This EU negates its own “found­ing val­ues” and as it puts for­ward “the migra­to­ry ques­tion”, con­tin­ues to do busi­ness with the pur­vey­ors of war and mis­ery at the ori­gin of exiles.

Top pho­to: Nuri Akman on the left, on the right from top to bot­tom, Lok­man Çoşkun, Serbest Derin.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.