Swiss authorities deport Kurdish asylum seeker to Brazil, raising fears among others stuck in airport

Several Kurds stranded in the Zürich Airport now fear deportation after one Kurdish asylum seeker named Ramazan Turan was deported by force last Thursday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Several Kurds stranded in the Zürich Airport now fear deportation after one Kurdish asylum seeker named Ramazan Turan was deported by force last Thursday.

Dogan Yildirim. a computer engineer and postgraduate student at Turkey's Sakarya University told Kurdistan 24 that he now fears that he will also be deported. His aunt, a 57-year-old mother of 11 named Taybet Inan was shot dead by security forces in the city of Silopi in 2015 during clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish fighters.

He said there are over 10 Kurds stuck in the airport. According to other sources, authorities in Switzerland have detained at least 28 persons, including 21 Kurds.

Thirteen of those now at the Zürich Airport could be deported to South Africa, they said, and others could be sent to Brazil. Both countries are considered safe for deportees by the Swiss government.

“My situation is bad in here because I am waiting in here for 42 days. You aren’t free. All of the men sleep one room and all of women and kids sleep one room. There aren't any windows in these rooms,” he said.

“They deported my friend. So now, I am waiting [for] my court decision. 10 Kurdish people stay here and Ramazan was deported because Switzerland says that Brazil is a safe country, but we know Brazil is not safe,” he said.

“They tied his hands and feet in the plane,” he added.

Yildirim says he is aware of thousands of people being killed in Brazil between 2006-2016, according to international human rights reports. “We saw in Brazil, that there are some neighborhoods where police cannot go,” he said. “And if they enter these neighborhoods, they kill the police."

“I am at risk of being sent back to Brazil where my flight to Switzerland originated from. I have no connection to Brazil whatsoever other than smugglers sent me there. I am in fear of being handed to Turkey if I am sent back to Brazil,” Yildirim told Kurdistan 24. 

“When Ramazan was deported, the Brazilian federal police wanted to call the Turkish embassy, but I called Caritas, and they then called the Brazilian police, and they didn’t call,” he added. Caritas Internationalis is an aid and development organization based in Vatican City. 

Now, said Yildirim, Ramazan finds himself stranded in a city he knows nothing about.

“Ramazan applied for asylum in there. But there aren't any camps for refugees and they don’t give money. So if you don't have money you will sleep in the street,” he added.

Yildirim fears being sent back to Turkey, where 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. He claims, though, that he only ever wanted to be an academic.   

“You are an engineer for the PKK, and one day they will arrest you. Later they told me, I should join the Turkish army, but I told them I won’t join the army because they killed my aunt and uncle,” he said.

“In Cizre, they burned alive my cousin.”

Several civilians were killed by Turkish security forces during a 78-day curfew imposed on the southern city of Cizre between Dec. 14, 2015 and March 2, 2016, during the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish army.

Yildirim said he was afraid to join the army because they killed a Kurdish person who was then serving in the Turkish army. “It’s normal for Turkey to kill Kurdish people,” he added.

According to him, if two people’s cases will be rejected by the court, all eight who flew in from South Africa will be deported. “One of them got refused, seven others now await a court decision,” he added.

“I applied [for] asylum in Switzerland because my life is in danger.  I also want to stay in Switzerland to continue my academic career, something that I have worked hard for, but [was] taken from me,” he said. “I kindly request of everyone to help me.”

Editing by John J. Catherine