Refugees tortured on the border with Iran

People fleeing war and poverty continue to die trying to cross the Turkish-Iranian border and get one step closer to Europe. Countless reports by NGOs expose the torture suffered by refugees at the hands of Turkish soldiers.

Refugees continue to flee war and poverty even in winter. Many are from Afghanistan and they are trying to cross the Turkish-Iranian border into the Kurdish province of Van. Some freeze to death in the high mountains. The AKP/MHP government uses refugees as a means of exerting pressure on Europe and has massive border fortifications financed by the EU. Refugees who climb the walls and fall into the hands of the Turkish army are repeatedly subjected to serious human rights violations, including torture.

In January, three people captured by Turkish forces were illegally turned back across the Iranian border and have been frozen to death on the other side of the border. Some of the refugees who have been victims of torture have turned to the Wan Bar Association.

"Iran and Turkey do not accept refugees"

Last week, in the village of Belasur on the Iranian side of the border, an Afghan woman froze to death while trying to cross the border with her two children. The children carried their mother's stumps in their hands, while the mother had plastic bags wrapped around her bare feet. According to reports, the previously unidentified Afghan woman was arrested by Turkish soldiers and left at the Iranian border. The Iranian soldiers didn't help her and the woman froze to death.

"Refugees are tortured at the border"

Mahmut Kaçan from the board of directors of the Van Bar Association reports on the serious human rights violations at the border. "If the migrants are captured, they will be abandoned at the Iranian border. Many refugees and migrants report being arrested, beaten, tortured, having their money and valuables stolen and their phones destroyed after crossing the border. They say that they are then returned to the border without any procedure being followed. A person who had attempted to cross the border dozens of times and had their fingers and toes broken turned to us. This is how rejections and mistreatment take place at the border."

"In the spring new bodies will probably emerge from the snow"

Kaçan says there is no access to asylum in Turkey and explains: "People are trying to enter the western provinces of Turkey with the help of smugglers without being registered. But especially in the winter months, many people who try to cross the border die from the cold or from attacks by wild animals. Just a few days ago, two people, believed to be from Afghanistan, froze to death. We won't find the bodies of many people until spring. This tragedy, which has been increasing for the past three to four years, could now take even bigger proportions."