There have been recent reports that the Turkish police are “exiling” Iranian refugees to small and unsafe cities in Turkey close to the border of Iraq and Syria. These refugees are living in constant fear for their lives and safety. One such refugee is Mr. Farid Shoolizadeh.
Farid Shoolizadeh is a 37 year old Zoroastrian Iranian writer, journalist and political activists who was forced to flee from Iran approximately a year ago and has become a refugee in Turkey.
Until approximately a month ago Mr. Shoolizadeh was residing in the city of Nevsheir and participating in various peaceful political events and activities in support of political prisoners in Iran.
Approximately one month ago Mr. Shoolizadeh was “exiled” to the city of Sirnak by the police in Nevshehir. Mr. Shoolizadeh believes the reason for his “exile” is his religion as well as his involvement in peaceful political and human rights activities.
It must be noted that the city of Sirnak is located on the border of Iraq and Syria and there is constant armed conflict between the Turkish army and the armed Kurdish group PKK. There are also regular protests against the Turkish Government. The military has dealt with the protest by using tear gas or helicopters that pour scalding hot water/pepper on protestors.
Mr. Shoolizadeh suffers from asthma and has difficulty breathing, which has been exasperated by the tear gas he has been exposed to on regular bases. Also the cost of living in the city of Sirnak is extremely high, due to the constant armed conflict, making it extremely difficult for him to buy his medication or inhaler for his asthma or to even obtain basic food necessary for his survival. Mr. Shoolizadeh does not receive any financial assistance from the UNHCR.
There are no other Iranians living in the city of Sirnak, and because Mr. Shoolizadeh does not speak Turkish or Kurdish he is completely isolated from society. It must be noted that five other Iranian refugees have been transferred to small cities in Turkey close to the border where they live in grave danger and fear for their lives.
During my email exchange with Mr. Shoolizadeh I asked him what his expectations are of the Turkish Government and the UNHCR. He indicated that he hopes that the Turkish Government will transfer him to a safe city where other Iranian refugees reside, and that he hopes the UNHCR will review his file and grant him an interview at the earliest opportunity.
I call on all human rights activists, human rights organizations and groups and organizations who work with refugees to show solidarity with Mr. Shoolizadeh and all other Iranian refugees facing a difficult time in Turkey.
Action to be taken:
• Write letters/emails/faxes to the Turkish Embassies in your country voicing your concern about the Iranian refugees and urging the Turkish Government to transfer all Iranian refugees to safe cities within Turkey.
• Write directly to officials in Turkey urging them to transfer all Iranian refugees to safe cities within Turkey.
• Speak/write to the media about your concerns with respect to the situation of Iranian refugees, the more noise we make the better the chances of Turkish Government listening.
• Write to UNHCR voicing your concern about the situation of Mr. Farid Shoolizadeh and urging them to review his case as soon as possible.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.
Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Canadian lawyer, blogger and pro-democracy activist