Press Statement

Malaysia must not deport Turkish nationals to their home country where they face persecution

12 May 2017

Lawyers for Liberty are extremely concerned with the safety and welfare of three Turkish nationals Turgay Karaman, Ihsan Aslan, and Ismet Özçelik whom Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said would be deported back to their home country.

Rights group and relatives have expressed fear that the men will be deported to Turkey as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ongoing crackdown on the Fethullah Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blame for last year’s failed coup. The Turkish government had requested for people they accused of links with the Gülen movement, ranging from journalists, teachers, businessmen, civil servants and soldiers, to be extradited to Turkey.

The Malaysian government must not deport these men to Turkey where they face persecution – similar to the thousands of others accused to be involved in the coup and subjected to sham trials and risk being tortured and even killed while under detention.

Several governments have refused Turkey’s calls for extradition, but the Malaysian government are among those appearing to comply with Turkey’s demands, even though these men have not committed any genuine crimes in Malaysia.

Further, any deportation will contravene international customary law that absolutely prohibits refoulement (deportation) of a person to a country where he will face further persecution.

The Malaysian government must not sacrifice these men in the name of diplomatic expediency. Instead, the Malaysian government must protect their rights to claim asylum, provide them with full recourse and due process of the law, access to legal counsel as well as the UN High Commissioners for Refugees.

If the men are accused of committing any local offences, they should be tried in the Malaysian courts. We call for the immediate release of Turgay Karaman, Ihsan Aslan, and Ismet Özçelik if they have not committed any criminal offence that Malaysia should be concerned with.

Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty