Internationalist youth delegation deported from Turkey reports mistreatment by security forces

The 15 members of the internationalist delegation detained in Turkey are back in Europe after being expelled from Turkey. The German members were questioned by the Federal Police after their arrival in Hamburg.

The fifteen members of a youth delegation from Germany, France and Italy who were detained in Turkey are back in their countries of origin after being deported. However, the activists who travelled from Germany to Turkey had to undergo questioning by the Federal Police after their arrival at Hamburg airport on Saturday evening. Below we publish a press release by "Ronahî - Youth Centre for Public Relations" on the facts of the case and a video statement by the group:

Yesterday, on the evening of 14 October 2023, the European delegation, which was arrested in Turkey, held in custody for three days and then deported, landed back in Germany, Italy and France.

At the airport, the delegates were met by their families, friends and other people who expressed their solidarity with banners and slogans. Before the German delegates could leave the airport, they were detained and questioned by the federal police immediately after their arrival.

The new interrogation by the federal police, immediately after three days in custody and a gruelling transfer to a prison more than 1500 kilometres away, led to great incomprehension among all those involved. The one-hour interrogation came close to a repetition of the interrogation on the Turkish side and led to retraumatisation. After their interrogation, the victims were given a protocol, which, however, only very vaguely describes the course of the interrogation. They reported that questions about the political background of the participants as well as about the political parties in Turkey were only asked informally and were not reflected in the minutes. Parts of the transcript seem to have been removed with scissors before being handed over.

The delegation members are doing well under the circumstances. All of them have suffered visible injuries from the violence of the Turkish security authorities. A video statement was recorded on the spot in Germany, Italy and France.

The German, Italian and French nationals had entered Turkey on 7 October as part of a political delegation trip at the official invitation of the Youth Council of the Green Left Party on the occasion of the party's congress in Ankara on 15 October.

On 12 October, during a joint press statement by the HDP, DBP and Green Left Party against the Turkish attacks on northern and eastern Syria, they were detained in Urfa and remained in custody for three days.

One delegate stated: "We were passed through various instances of the Turkish regime and from the first police station we had no lawyer, no translator and no contact with the outside world. We had no right to speak to a judge or to a trial, which means we spent three days in absolute uncertainty about what was going to happen to us and who knew about where we were."

Those affected also reported mistreatment by Turkish security forces: "But it was not only psychological violence that we experienced there, in the form of harassment, psychological pressure and psychological violence in all forms, but also very clearly physical violence. We were beaten, we were choked, we were kicked, male friends were beaten up naked and I think this also shows how little rule of law there is in Turkey."

Another delegate said that their arrest and unlawful treatment by the Turkish state must be seen in the light of current world political events. The violent actions of Turkish security forces against individuals who publicly oppose Turkey's attacks on northern and eastern Syria and northern Iraq, which violate international law, should not be seen separately from Turkey's military operations, said a member of the delegation. "The Turkish state is simply concerned with silencing all voices for democracy and human dignity."

The statement of the deported delegates continued: "We were all there because we are interested in the Kurdish question and wanted to experience at first-hand what this means for the local population. In any case, we have now been able to experience at first-hand what arbitrariness the people there are subjected to and how any opposition to the war is simply put down. When we then see how the German state cooperates with the Turkish state and that Annalena Baerbock met yesterday with Hakan Fidan, who is now Foreign Minister but was for years the head of the Turkish secret service and is responsible for enormous torture, house searches and arrests, we ask ourselves: Where is the solidarity? Where is the responsibility of the German state?"

The delegates ended their video statement with an appeal: "We call on all people in German society who think something of democratic values and freedom of the press, all journalists, all members of the Bundestag (German Parliament) to take a clear stand and oppose Turkey's war of aggression against the Kurdish population but also against the Turkish regime."

In the coming days and weeks, the delegates want to comprehensively process their experiences and make what happened to them, supplemented by further details, available to the public.