Religious group lodges European court action against Türkiye after pullback at Bulgarian border

The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, members of which were pulled back at the Turkish-Bulgarian border in May after attempting to cross to seek asylum, have lodged an application against Türkiye in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

On May 24 2023, a group of 104 members of the religious minority, including 27 women and 22 children, presented themselves at the Turkish side of the Kapikule border seeking access to asylum in Bulgaria.

Turkish Police reportedly blocked them using excessive force, resulting in the injury of at least 30 members of the group, including nine women. Turkish authorities took them into custody at the Edirne police station. They are threatened with deportation, and have alleged being beaten and tortured.

On July 11, the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light submitted an application to the ECHR, with a 72-page document detailing the persecution the 101 detained members of the faith endured in their countries of origin because of their religion, as well as serious human rights violations enacted upon them by Turkish authorities and in detention, the religious group said.

The application asks the ECHR to order Türkiye to immediately release all the applicants, especially the minors and the vulnerable members; suspend all the applicants’ deportation; immediately within 24 hours send an independent medical expert, and then every three days; and immediately within 24 hours send independent human rights organisations for monitoring purposes of conditions at the detention center, and then every three days.

On July 4, UN human rights experts called on Türkiye not to deport the members of the group detained in May.

They also called on the government to conduct a proper risk assessment of their situation to prevent any refoulement that may result in serious violations of their rights.

“Under international law, the Government of Türkiye is called to act in line with its obligation not to deport 101 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, who may be at risk of serious human rights violations if they are returned to their countries of origin,” the experts said. 

(Photo of the ECHR: CherryX)

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