The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and other UN experts to the Government of Turkey on 15 June 2023. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. The Government replied on 11 September 2023.
Since the communication was sent, the human rights defender filed an appeal against his deportation, which was subsequently halted for the duration of the judicial appeal period.
This is a shorter version of the original communication.
Topic: imminent risk of refoulement of a human rights defender to his country of origin.
The human rights defender and podcaster peacefully participated in the protest movement which began in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022 and has actively supported religious minorities faced with discrimination in Iran’s Kermanshah Province, including working to ensure their access to legal assistance. In 2017, he volunteered in the same province to support reconstruction efforts following the earthquake that hit the region. As a podcaster, he has been vocal about violations of human rights in Iran, particularly violations of the rights of women.
In October 2022, the human rights defender was arbitrarily arrested in retaliation for his human rights activities. He was detained incommunicado for a month and subjected to acts of torture, including his fake execution.
While in detention, he was requested to plead guilty of the charges of “war with God”, “spreading false information”, “cursing to God and prophet”, and “insulting the Supreme Leader”, to which he refused. These charges normally carry the death sentence. He was subsequently seated on a chair and told by law enforcement officers that they would show him how he would feel at the time of his own execution.
He was charged with “disturbing public opinion”, “advertising and collusion against the regime and public security” and “degrading and defaming the prophet”, all in connection with his human rights work, however, he was released on condition of providing a written statement swearing to refrain from speaking out against the regime and committing to cooperate with the government, including through the production of propaganda content.
Following his release, the human rights defender fled Iran in December 2022 and has been legally residing in Turkey. Upon the recent expiration of his 90 day visa, he was arrested by the Gendarmerie General Command and taken to the Çankiri Geri Detention Centre, before being transferred to the Agri Removal Centre, Agri Province.
In the communication, we express our serious concern about the risk of refoulement of the human rights defender. If deported, he would be at high risk of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, torture and execution.