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Unsanitary conditions, hunger strike and other reports of Turkmen migrants in Türkiye

Unsanitary conditions, hunger strike and other reports of Turkmen migrants in Türkiye

Last week, a Turkmen migrant who was released from the deportation center in Shanlyurfa contacted us. A citizen of Turkmenistan said that he was there for 4 months. He was released on the basis of a certificate from the hospital, which indicated that he needed surgery due to a herniated disc in his back.

“At the deportation center in Shanlyurfa, about 200 Turkmens are awaiting their release, many of them have appealed the deportation decision in court. They do not want to return to Turkmenistan for various reasons. The main thing is the inability to obtain a tourist visa and residence permit. They came to work and hoped, after working in Türkiye, to save money for their children’s education; others hoped to purchase or complete housing. There are also those who are looking for an opportunity to renounce their citizenship of Turkmenistan and stay in Türkiye forever. Each of them has different kinds of complaints. For example, the food in this center is poor, the conditions are unsanitary, and there are various insects where we slept. They give you 5 minutes to call home, but you don’t always get your turn. In addition, the detainees are subjected to beatings.”

The migrant also said that his compatriots who remained after his release hope that his voice will be heard and they will “be given a helping hand.” “I called the consulate to ask for help for them, but the consulate staff turned off the phone, telling us to return to Turkmenistan.”

For detained Turkmen who have expressed a desire to voluntarily return to Turkmenistan, the deportation center buys a ticket and releases them, our source added.

According to another report, from July 9 to July 13, Turkmen migrants held in the Turkish deportation center in the city of Malatya, having declared a hunger strike, were waiting for help from the consulate, one of the participants in the action told us.

“We went on a hunger strike and demanded that the authorities invite our consul,” said the young man. – We are kept here for months, most are here for 8-10 months, some have been here for a year. All this time we are not working, we are not sending financial assistance to our families. September is coming, and the children need to be prepared for school. How can we help them if we are locked up?“

And in this case, the administration of the center explained to the migrants that if they write a statement of voluntary consent to deportation to their homeland, then the Turkish authorities themselves will buy them air tickets and send them home. Even their family members were offered to help if they were in Türkiye.

There are currently 40 Turkmen migrants being held in the deportation center in Malatya. For the most part, these are people with invalid/expired documents, and the Turkish authorities have recently increased their number of raids to catch them.

For the return of such migrants to Turkmenistan, the head of the center also promised to help obtain certificates from the Turkmen consulate within two months. However, as the source said, the migrants who went on hunger strike did not agree to deportation and demanded to invite the Turkmen consul to help them obtain documents at consular offices in Türkiye.

“On July 13, a representative of the center’s gendarmerie promised to release us soon, so we stopped our hunger strike that same day,” a source told human rights activists.

An attempt to clarify the situation with the management of the Deportation Center in Malatya did not yield any results.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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