No asylum for crimes against humanity in Kurdistan

The Netherlands Council of State Court rejected a high ranking Turkish soldier’s asylum application for having committed “crimes against humanity in the Kurdistan region” during the 1990’s.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey and sought refuge in European countries after the July 15 coup. As this flight contiues, there are many soldiers and police officers among the people applying for asylum in Europe.

During the asylum application process, a former member of the Turkish Land Forces relayed his time on duty in 1994 and 1995 in Kurdish regions to the Netherlands Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship.

The Ministry of Immigration rejected the applicant’s appeal, citing that the Turkish security forces and army have “committed crimes against humanity in the Kurdish regions” in 1994 and 1995 in particular.

Following the rejection, the soldier’s lawyer took the matter to the Amsterdam District Court. The court stated that only special forces are responsible for the crimes against humanity and announced that they don’t accept the rejection.


The Netherlands Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship on the other hand insisted that crimes against humanity have been committed and appealed to the Council of State, the next higher court.

The Ministry of Immigration submitted a defense and said: “The reports we are in possession of show that Turkish security forces and the Turkish army in particular have committed crimes against humanity in the Southeastern region in 1994 and 1995.”

The report also said, “According to the statements the asylum applicant gave during interviews, and considering his rank and duties, he must have been aware of these crimes against humanity. It is not believable that he did not know what transpired.”


The Council of State found the submitted report rightful and issued the following verdict: “Both the army and the gendarmerie had direct participation in the evacuation of villages. Thus, the arguments posed by the Ministry of Migration are rightful, and the verdict issued by the first court is in the wrong.”

The Council of State ruled that the verdict is applicable to all soldiers and police officers who served in Kurdistan in the 1990’s.

A similar verdict had been issued in 2012, when the Haarlem Foreigners and Immigration Bureau rejected the asylum appeal of a Hezbollah member on the grounds of having committed crimes against humanity. The Ministry of Immigration still bases new verdicts on this one and judges appeals by police officers, soldiers, army officers and Hezbollah members accordingly.

On the other hand, rejected asylum applicants can’t be deported due to increasingly severe torture and mistreatment in Turkey. The Netherlands Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship leaves the army and police officers they reject on grounds of the Article 1F of the Geneva Refugee Convention without a status and doesn’t send them back to their home country as they will likely be subjected to torture.