Iran: Refoulement of Iranians from Turkey
To: All Sections
From: Press and Publications
Date: 20 March 1985
WEEKLY UPDATE SERVICE 10/85
4. Index: MDE 13/WU 04/85/ External
IRAN: Refoulement of Iranians from Turkey
Amnesty International is concerned about several reports it has received that a number of Iranian refugees have been forcibly returned in the past six months by the Turkish authorities and may face imprisonment as prisoners of conscience, torture or execution in Iran.
Reports have been received by the organization of the refoulement (forcible return) of (a) Iranians who had entered Turkey directly from Iran and (b) others who had been sent back to Turkey, as their first country of refuge after having sought asylum in Sweden.
Amnesty International has so far been unable to confirm the reports and is investigation them further. Meanwhile, it considered the reports serious enough to bring to the attention of the Turkish authorities.
In February it expressed its concern to the Turkish Prime Minister and sought assurances that refoulement would not occur where there were reasonable grounds for supposing the individual concerned might become a prisoner of conscience, or face torture or execution after return to Iran.
Amnesty International’s communication referred to authorities to the Convention relation to the Status of Refugees. Although Turkey has ratified the Convention only as regards events within Europe, it is Amnesty International’s view that non-refoulement to Iran is and obligation which has passed into international customary law and is therefore binding on all states.
The Turkish ambassador in London has replied that Turkey is “under no contractual obligation to accept refugees from outside Europe” but that refuge was accorded, for humanitarian reasons, to Iranians for whom “Turkey is only a transit base during their quest for a visa from third countries”.
Amnesty International remains concerned that the Turkish Authorities should not under any circumstances forcibly return Iranian refugees who, in Iran, face the forms of persecution described above.
At the same time, the organization opposes the forcible return of Iranians refugees to any country where they may face refoulement to Iran and face forms of persecution.
Amnesty International urges governments considering the return of such Iranian refugees to Turkey to take into account the reply received from the Turkish Ambassador in London, and not to enforce such returns in the absence of assurance from appropriate authorities in Turkey that the people concerned would not be subject to refoulement.