ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – After two months’ wait, Mustafa Mamay (31) and Dogan Yildirim (27) were allowed to leave the Zurich airport after being stuck in transit, fearing deportation due to the fact Swiss authorities considered the countries they came from to be ‘safe.’
The last two remaining Kurdish members of the once 20-member group are now allowed to enter Switzerland after a court ruled in their favor, reports the Swiss news website, Watson.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) previously campaigned for Mamay’s case. Mamay fled to Syria from Turkey three years ago after being prosecuted for his work as a journalist, the CPJ claimed. Switzerland reportedly wanted to deport Mamay to South Africa.
According to the CPJ and court documents regarding Mamay’s conviction they examined, the Turkish state accused him of “aiding a [terrorist] organization without being a member,” which resulted in a six years and three months prison sentence. The conviction was “based only [his presence] at a press conference that was considered illegal in Turkey in 2008,” the CPJ said in a tweet.
“I’m leaving the airport on Friday,” Mamay told Kurdistan 24. However, he has not yet been granted asylum. “I haven’t been granted asylum. For this, the process will start again,” he explained.
Dogan Yildirim, a computer engineer and postgraduate student, earlier feared he would be deported to Brazil, where he would risk being sent back to Turkey. There, he is accused of contributing to a “project for the PKK” referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has fought an insurgency against Ankara for decades.
Yildrim claims, though, that he only ever wanted to be an academic.
Now, however, his fears are gone. “I am happy now that, after 65 days, I will be able to leave the airport and enter Switzerland,” he told Kurdistan 24.
There is still a risk the pair could be deported, reported Watson, as asylum procedures are still pending and none of the 20 Kurds who made their way to Switzerland have yet received a favorable decision. It is still possible for them to be deported at a later stage.
“Now we are just allowed to enter the country, but we don’t know if they will initiate [asylum] procedures or not, because the other Kurds who stayed in the airport haven’t seen their cases begin. They are still waiting,” Yildirim told Kurdistan 24.
Editing by Nadia Riva