Türkiye: denial of entry, deportation and entry ban against Turkmen WHRD Tadzhigul Begmedova (joint communication)

The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and another UN expert to the Government of Türkiye on 28 December 2023. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this time frame. If a reply is received it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

At the time of publication, Tadzhigul Begmedova’s lawyer has filed a complaint with the Turkish authorities regarding the entry-ban issued against her, and is yet to receive a response.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication


Topic: the alleged denial of entry to and deportation from Türkiye of woman human rights defender Tadzhigul Begmedova, and the issuance of a five-year entry ban against her.

Ms. Tadzhigul Begmedova is a woman human rights defender from Turkmenistan and is the head of the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which is based in Bulgaria. The Turkmen Helsinki Foundation (THF) was originally established by Turkmen dissidents and reports on human rights violations in Turkmenistan, as well as issues faced by Turkmen migrants in Türkiye, given the high number of Turkmen migrants residing in the country. In the spring of 2023, THF participated in the preparation of reports related to the UPR of Türkiye and Turkmenistan as both countries were due to be reviewed by the Human Rights Council. In November 2023 in Geneva, ahead of the reviews of both countries, THF and other human rights organizations held a side-event, during which they highlighted concerns regarding human rights violations against Turkmen people. In 2023, THF also assisted in the registration of the human rights organization ‘Hak Hukuga Daýanç’ (Righteousness) in Türkiye, which advocates for the rights of Turkmen migrants.


On 5 January 2022, Ms. Begmedova was travelling on a bus from Bulgaria to Türkiye, to meet with Turkmen activists in the country, when she was prevented from entering the country by Turkish border authorities. The ban was allegedly issued due to Ms. Begmedova being considered as a “threat to public safety” and her leadership of a foreign NGO. Ms. Begmedova was not informed of the ban against her prior to attempting to travel to Türkiye.

Ms. Begmedova appealed the entry ban against her before the Ankara Administrative Court. During the proceedings, the lawyer for Ms. Begmedova argued that she had rarely visited Türkiye, had never violated Turkish law, and that the ban may be in response to a request from the Government of Turkmenistan. The prosecution was reportedly unable to provide evidence for the justification of the ban. On 8 March 2023, the Ankara Administrative Court lifted the ban against Ms. Begmedova.

On 1 November 2023, Ms. Begmedova flew from Varna, Bulgaria to Istanbul. She planned to fly from Istanbul to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan a few days later, to attend the International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, ‘Bir Duino’. At around midday, Ms. Begmedova was passing through passport control when she was told by one of the airport employees to stop and wait. When Ms. Begmedova asked why she was being denied entry, one of the airport employees reportedly responded, “you know better”.

At around 3pm, Ms. Begmedova was taken to a room for passengers denied entry, where she was photographed, fingerprinted, and had her luggage inspected. In response to Ms. Begmedova’s questions about what was happening and why, she was reportedly told that she would find out later. There were other passengers in the room with Ms. Begmedova, where there were no seats or opportunity to use the toilet. At around 5pm, Ms. Begmedova was given a document which stated she would be sent back to Bulgaria on a flight at 9:15 am the next day.

On 2 November 2023 at approximately 6:00 am, Ms. Begmedova was given another document which stated that on 12 September 2023, the Turkish Migration Service had allegedly imposed a five-year ban against Ms. Begmedova entering the country. The document also reportedly included a security restriction code, issued by the Presidency of Migration Management (PMM) in relation to deportations. The code assigned to Ms. Begmedova was G-82, corresponding to a national security threat. In the event of a further “serious threat” to security, this ban can be extended by another 10 years. This was the first time Ms. Begmedova was informed of the ban issued against her, despite it allegedly being issued in September.

That morning, Ms. Begmedova was escorted to the flight and deported to Varna. Ms. Begmedova’s luggage was reportedly never returned to her, despite her repeated requests. Ms. Begmedova is seeking to appeal the ban issued against her.


In the communication, we express concern in relation to the reported denial of entry of woman human rights defender Ms. Tadzhigul Begmedova to Türkiye on two occasions, and the five-year entry ban issued against her, both of which appear to be in relation to her legitimate human rights activities. We are concerned that the two bans against her, citing alleged security concerns, appear to lack a factual or legal basis and rather seem to be aimed at preventing her from carrying out her work, advocating for the rights of Turkmen citizens and migrants in Türkiye. The bans against Ms. Begmedova therefore would not meet the strict tests of necessity and proportionality, as stipulated in international human rights law, and therefore would be in contravention of Türkiye’s human rights obligations.

We are also concerned that Ms. Begmedova was not informed of either of the travel bans issued against her, and was only informed of their issuance when attempting to travel, potentially amounting to a breach of legality and legal predictability. Special Procedures mandate holders have on a number of occasions communicated their concern to the Government of Türkiye regarding the unfounded use of national security legislation and measures against human rights defenders in connection with their work, which is both detrimental to human rights defenders and civil society more broadly, but also undermines the legislation itself.


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