Letter to the Auuthorities from the Refugee Rights Coordination Human Rights Violations Against Syrians in Hatay Shoulds be Investigated

28 February 2012



Refugee Rights Coordination which consists of 5 human rights organizations from Turkey, sent a letter to President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Interior İdris Naim Şahin and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu concerning the claims about the forced deportation of the asylum seekers  in Hatay to Syria.

Concerning the claims that the Syrians who took refuge in Turkey were forcibly deported, against the national and international law, an effective investigation was requested in this letter.


The Refugee Rights Coordination has previously made an official request  to the government to visit “the tent cities” in Hatay. However, authorities has rejected this request and thus prevented the human rights organizations from contacting and supporting Syrian asylum seekers in Hatay. In the letter, The Refugee Rights Coordination asked the authorities for the removal of the obstacles that prevent human rights organizations to work with asylum seekers.

The Coordination will also send letters to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and TBMM (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) Human Rights Inquiry Committee to call them for duty.


İnsan Hakları Ortak Platformu – Phone Number: 03124688460 Fax: 03124689253

Tunus Cad. 87/8 Kavaklıdere ANKARA

 Helsinki Yurttaşlar Derneği (hYd)

 İnsan Hakları Derneği (İHD)

 İnsan Hakları Gündemi Derneği (İHGD)

 Mültecilerle Dayanışma Derneği (Mülteci-Der)

 Uluslararası Af Örgütü Türkiye Şubesi (UAÖ)

The letter that has been sent to President, Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Due to the act of violence many Syrians had left their countries, had taken refuge in Turkey and had been provided accommodation in the tent cities that have been arranged by the Turkish government in Hatay. According to the officials’ statements, up until now, over 20 thousand Syrians checked in the camps in Hatay and some of them turned back to their country over time.

According to the claims in the media, Turkish officials have forcibly deported some Syrians to Syria where the environment of violence continues. It is also claimed that Serbast Mahmoud has been deported by Turkish officials. It concerns us that human rights of Syrian asylum seekers are being violated through unlawful practices.

Recently, as the result of the investigation that has been conducted by Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Adana, it has been revealed that some people –including public officials– sent Syrian Hüseyin Mustafa Harmuş back to Syria who had been accommodating in one of the tent cities. Harmuş had escaped from Syria and taken refuge in Turkey in June 2011.

According to the article 33 of the Geneva Conventions which Turkey had also approved; “No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

“Non-refoulement principle” which is accepted as an international customary and traditional law is one of the human rights and it is a general principle which all the states are expected to obey.

Besides, Article 18 in Turkish Criminal Code (Law No: 5237) which is a part of Turkey’s internal legislation regulates “extradition”. According to this article returning process cannot be realized if the action that constitutes the basis to the request for extradition is “an offence of political or military nature or an offence of opinion” or if “there  is  strong suspicion  that  the  person  will  be  tortured  or  inhumanly  treated  or punished  or  prosecuted  because  of  his  political  opinions  or  his membership of a particular social group, nationality, religion or race in case of his extradition to the requesting State.”

Due to the national and international law, concerning the claims about the deportation practices that would pose danger to asylum seekers’ security who are under the protection of the Turkish government, an extensive and effective investigation should be conducted by both judicial and administrative offices.

As the human rights organizations, we stated our request for working in the tent cities in Hatay starting from the very first day. Not having received a positive answer to our requests, we have been prevented from entering the tent cities and conducting a field research there.

In the case that the environment of violence continues in Syria, it is possible that thousands of Syrians would take refuge in Turkey. We expect you to take precautions in order not to experience similar human rights violations, to develop cooperation with international organisations such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and to take an initiative in order to remove the obstacles before human rights organizations in Turkey to work on this issue.

Best regards,