UN Human Rights Experts call on Turkiye NOT to deport members of the Ahmadi religion

6 JUL 2023 — 

UPDATE: UN Experts Release A Statement Calling on Turkey to Halt Deportation of 101 Detained Members, Citing Human Rights Concerns

FULL STATEMENT: United Nations Issues Statement on the Persecution of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light Members

In a significant development on the case of 101 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light currently detained in Turkey, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a statement urging Turkey to halt the deportation of the group. The statement, issued on 4 July 2023 in Geneva, by three UN Special Rapporteurs, Felipe González Morales, Nazila Ghanea and Fernand de Varennes, as well as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, highlights the concerns of UN human rights experts regarding the potential violation of the detainees’ rights if they are forcibly returned to their countries of origin.


According to the experts, Turkey is obligated under international law to refrain from deporting 101 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light who are at serious risk of being subjected to human rights violations upon return to their respective countries. 


The statement recounts the violent pushback of the group by the Turkish border guards on 24 May 2023, after they had presented themselves at the Turkish side of the Kapikule border, seeking access to asylum in Bulgaria. It further mentions the Turkish authorities’ use of excessive force to prevent their entry, resulting in injuries to at least 30 individuals, including nine women. 


The experts further stated that many of the detainees have reported instances of torture, cruel treatment, and degrading behavior by police officers, including physical abuse, sexual harassment, and sleep deprivation. Following their detention, the group was transferred to the Edirne deportation center, and the Turkish Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a deportation order for 101 individuals.


Highlighting the persecution faced by members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light since its inception in 1999, the UN experts emphasized that the members are often labeled as heretics and subjected to threats, violence, and illegal detention. They are particularly vulnerable to imprisonment due to blasphemy laws violating their right to freedom of religion or belief.


Furthermore, the UN experts emphasized in the statement that the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of individuals to situations where they may face serious human rights violations, is “absolute and non-derogable” under international human rights and refugee law. 


In light of the risks faced by the 101 detained members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, the UN experts asserted that Turkey must conduct an individual, impartial, and independent assessment of the protection needs and risks faced by each person if they were to be returned to their countries.


In addition to this, the Director of CAP Freedom of Conscience will discuss in a conference to be held tomorrow, the 6th of July, the cases of religious minorities discriminated against in Iran and will highlight the case of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light in Iran.