Two refugees, one Syrian and the other Palestinian, were severely beaten by security officers at a repatriation center in Turkey’s western İzmir province on May 11, the Evrensel daily reported.
Medical reports confirmed that both refugees were beaten. Two deputies, Gülüstan Kılıç Koçyiğit from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Sezgin Tanrıkulu from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a parliamentary question about the incident addressing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
The refugees’ rights to use the telephone, observe their religious duties and spend time in the yard were allegedly violated. When officers said they “could not ask for anything in Turkey,” the refugees staged a protest, and officers responded with pepper spray and batons.
There have also been claims that there is a room in the center without any cameras designated “foreign terrorists,” where refugees are taken to be beaten.
Tanrıkulu asked whether the Interior Ministry has investigated these claims and whether any refugee died due to mistreatment or torture.
Koçyiğit asked why the refugees had been deprived of their basic rights in the first place and if refugees had access to lawyers and legal assistance.
Turkish authorities increased the security in repatriation centers in 2017 by adding razor wire fences reaching up to five meters. According to a report by the Gazete Karınca news website, refugees are completely isolated from society in these centers and live in poor conditions for months and sometimes years.
Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, a former deputy from the HDP, had criticized the government’s decision to increase security at these centers, saying it would be harder to monitor how refugees were being treated.
“International organizations have reported that there are numerous cases of torture and ill-treatment in repatriation centers,” she said. ” There is legislation that regulates how to keep people under temporary supervision. Thus, it is expected that these people have access to regular health care and be monitored in accordance with human dignity.”
According to the most recent report published by the Swiss-based NGO Global Detention Project, international observers have repeatedly criticized conditions in Turkish repatriation facilities. Observers have highlighted overcrowding and a lack of medical care and access to lawyers and civil society groups and that minors were held with adults.
The report also said if refugees opposed certain regulations and practices in the centers, they were often mistreated and beaten by security officers.