Conditions of detention of Turkmen citizens in deportation centers in Turkey.
We would like to bring to your attention a testimony of a 30-year-old Turkmen who was kept for 20 days in a Turkish deportation center in November last year. We have all his data, but for security reasons, he asked to be named Bairam.
“I arrived in Turkey in 2012 and had a legal residence status until 2018. When my residence permit expired, I submitted documents to the Turkish Migration Institution for extension, but, sadly the application was rejected. To receive a valid residence permit, I had to leave Turkey for another country and to come back again later. Since I did not have the opportunity to do so, my residency status changed to an illegal immigrant .
On the first of August, 2021, I was on my way to work in Aksaray area of Istanbul. At the subway entrance, police officers were checking documents. As I did not have the valid permit residence, I was detained and sent to a deportation center located in Tuzla region. The full name of the centre is “İstanbul valiligi il göç idaresi müdürlügü geri göndreme merkezi”. Two days later 129 people from that centre including me, were sent to a deportation centre in Erzurum town. They tied our hands and feet, loaded us into a bus and drove all of us in three buses. Despite the fact that we are not criminals (as there was no trial), and there were sick people among us and some people had health issues, our hands and feet were tied as if we were criminals. I think the treatment we experienced was inhuman and inhumane. During 22 hour drive between Istanbul and Erzurum we were not allowed to go to the toilet. Some men were forced to relieve themselves on the bus.
The deportation centre in Erzurum was full of Turkmen citizens, both men and women. Some of them did not have any shoes on their feet, they had to walk bare feet. Also, there were many sick people among us. I have a heart disease. When I was detained, I had medications for my heart condition on me. When I was brought to the deportation centre, I was allowed to keep my medications with my personal belongings. When I ran out of the medicines, I asked the staff to buy me the medication with my money. However, they did not help me at all with it.
Due to the boarder closures, our compatriots suffer greatly. Hundreds of Turkmens are in despair. They are not allowed to leave the deportation centre. They are not visited by the Turkmen consulate officers, although this is part of their direct duties.
I do not hold any grudges against Turkish authorities. I am furious that having the potential of a country like Turkmenistan with a President, a Government; we, Turkmens, are suffering unreasonably and unfairly. There is no one to protect us in difficult situations. We cannot be blamed for the fact that our country and its leadership do not provide their citizens with the relevant documents. Because of these reasons, sometimes we are left without water and food.”
Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.