Religious minority asylum-seekers detained at Turkish-Bulgarian border say they were beaten, tortured

Thirty of 104 members of religious minority group Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light who had presented themselves at the Turkish-Bulgarian border to seek asylum on May 24, say that they were heavily beaten, tortured and abused by the Turkish authorities in the Edirne deportation center in Türkiye.

First-hand video testimonies, voice recordings and photographs from the detained members detail the torture and abuse they have been subjected to at the hands of the Turkish authorities, the religious group said in a statement on June 1.

Thirty of the detained members, including 10 women and two children, say that they remain severely injured.

Some have been requesting hospital visits, but were not granted any, the statement said.

One of the members, Redouane Foufa, from Algeria, said that he was beaten in detention and injected with an unknown substance. He describes in a voice recording how the women and children were subjected to torture methods as well. They were deprived of food and water for three days, made to stand in the sun and deprived of sleep, the statement said.

Hassan Oyandi, a member of the religion from Türkiye, describes in a video testimony being heavily beaten, with photographs showing visible bruises and swellings on parts of his body.

Two UK amateur journalists, Sermad Al-Khafaji and Alexandra Foreman who had accompanied the group were also taken into custody. They say that they were both accused of being British agents.

Foreman describes being held in very bad conditions. She mentions some members being forced to sign documents they did not understand and she was forced to witness a group being beaten in front of her. Sermad Al-Khafaji says in a video testimony that he was very badly treated and severely beaten.

This is a clear violation of the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code Article 148 which states that “any bodily or mental intervention such as misconduct, torture and administring medicines, exhausting falsification, physical coercion or threatening using certain equipment, is forbidden”, the statement said.

“These torture measures against our members are an outrageous violation of their human rights.

“We urge the the international community to hold Türkiye accountable for the torture and abuse of our members and to guarantee their protection and safety,” the statement said.

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