Swedish-Kurdish MP denied entry to Turkey to observe elections

"It is unacceptable that [Turkey] is deporting MPs who came to observe elections to make sure they are free and fair. European countries and the OSCE need to react."

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish authorities on Thursday detained and deported a Kurdish member of the Swedish Parliament, Jabar Amin, from Istanbul's Ataturk airport, denying him entry to the country where he was to observe Sunday's elections.

Amin, a Green Party lawmaker, was traveling to Turkey as a part of a delegation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a fellow Swedish MP Daniel Riazat who flew onboard the same plane and made it through Turkish customs, told Kurdistan 24.

While Riazat said he did not witness what happened, other colleagues told him that Turkish officers detained Amin, confiscated his electronic devices and passport before deporting him back to Sweden.

Riazat described the treatment an international elections observer received as a "testimony of the current crisis" through which Turkey's democracy is suffering.

Amin told Sweden's public-funded radio that Turkish police told him the "orders came from a higher place."

Riazat, who is in Turkey at the invitation of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to observe the elections, said he passed through the Turkish customs simply as "a tourist."

"Amin is a Kurd from Southern Kurdistan [Kurdistan Region of Iraq.] He has been active in the Kurdish [cause]. They probably stopped him because of that," the Left Party's Riazat said.

Germany's public broadcaster wrote that Andrej Hunko, a member of the German Bundestag for The Left party (Die Linke), was another OSCE observer denied entry to Turkey.

Both European MPs are known to be fierce critics of Turkey's incumbent President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and particularly of his crackdown on the Kurds.

"This is a really serious issue. It is unacceptable that [Turkey] is deporting MPs who came to observe elections to make sure they are free and fair. European countries and the OSCE need to react. They write lame reports about Turkey, but this still is [how they act]," Riazat said.

"It is a small example of what people in Turkey, and especially the Kurdish people, go through," he added.

A report last week on pre-election findings by the OSCE noted the continued detention of Erdogan's Kurdish rival, Selahattin Demirtas.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the report as not "coinciding with reality."

"It is our expectation that all observer missions in our country carry out their functions accordingly," read a harshly-worded online press release that boasted of invitations to several international elections watchdogs.

Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, said in a statement that Turkey's actions were unacceptable.

"OSCE election observation is important for ensuring the integrity and legitimacy of the election processes. Observers need to work independently. It is therefore not up to the recipient country to decide which ones should work. This also applies to Turkey," Wallström said.

Editing by Nadia Riva