The number of Turkish nationals granted protection status by European Union countries increased by 300 percent between 2016 and 2017, proving that European asylum services recognize that Turks are being persecuted in their homeland, political scientist Nikolaos Lampas said on Thursday in a paper he wrote for the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.
According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, the number of Turkish nationals granted protection status increased from 900 in 2016 to 5,555 in 2017.
In 2017 the average rate of recognition of asylum applications from Turkish nationals in Europe was 36 percent, meaning that in one out of three cases Turkish asylum seekers were granted refugee status.
Refugee flows from Turkey to Europe have increased, mostly due to a combination of a 2016 failed coup attempt and an ongoing economic crisis, Lampas said.
Approximately 150,000 civil servants have lost their jobs, and the Turkish police have made more than 50,000 arrests in a massive crackdown on the opposition in the aftermath of the coup.
Turkey is also facing its most severe economic downturn since 2001, with the lira sliding by almost 40 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year. The approaching recession in Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reluctance to implement sound economic policies are also pushing Turks to migrate to European countries, Lampas said.
The substantial increase in protection status granted to Turkish nationals is striking for two reasons, said Lampas. “First, it reflects the speed at which the total number of asylum applications from Turkish citizens has risen. Second, it shows that European asylum services recognize that Turkish citizens are being persecuted.”
According to a 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union to cut the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece, for every Syrian who legally enters Turkey and continues on to the EU, another refugee who has illegally entered the EU will be sent back to Turkey.
Lampas said under that agreement Turkey had been considered to be a safe third country. “But this no longer makes sense. European countries now grant refugee protection status to Turkish citizens, meaning they acknowledge that they are suffering persecution in their home country,” he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.
“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with Ahval)