Pro-Kurdish HDP’s former deputy Leyla Birlik flees Turkey

A former parliamentarian for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has illegally crossed the border into Greece to apply for asylum and has been detained by police, according to a report by the pro-government CNN Türk.

Former HDP deputy Leyla Birlik was kept under arrest in Turkey between November 2016 and January 2017 on charges of disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization. She was then released pending trial with a ban on international travel. She was given a 21-month prison sentence for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in January of this year.

CNN Türk reported that Birlik had called HDP colleagues in Greece and Turkey for help with claiming asylum as she believed that the police in Alexandropolis would send her to a repatriation center.

The number of asylum claims by Turkish citizens in Greece has soared since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. According to figures released by the Greek Migration Policy Ministry, 17 Turkish citizens sought asylum in 2013, 41 in 2014, 42 in 2015 and 189 in 2016, 153 of them following the coup attempt.

However, 1,827 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in Greece in 2017, while 1,839 applied for asylum from January to July 2018 – 687 of them in the month of July alone, online news outlet T24 reported.

On the other hand, over 5,000 people have been prevented from leaving Turkey on suspicion of membership in the Gülen movement. (SCF with Ahval)

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