Turkey to deport 2 Kurdish journalists back to Iran, putting their lives at risk

Two Kurdish journalists from Iranian Kurdistan are facing imminent deportation from Turkey to Iran, where they fear for their lives, Turkish Minute reported on Tuesday, citing the Rudaw news website.

Rashad Mohammadi and Fehmide Hoseini have been detained in a repatriation center in western Kırklareli province’s Pehlivanköy district since allegedly entering Turkey illegally.

The journalists’ attorney, Bülent Arar, has emphasized the serious risks his clients would face if deported. “My clients’ lives are in danger,” Arar was quoted by Rudaw as saying, calling for an immediate halt to their deportation. Mohammadi and Hoseini are known for their work reporting on human rights abuses in Iran, making their return to the country extremely perilous.

Mohammadi and Hoseini, who are married, have worked with opposition media outlets Tishk TV and KURD Channel for many years. Hoseini served as a news anchor, while Mohammadi worked as a technician. They are originally from Mariwan, a city in Rojhilat, an unofficial name for the parts of northwestern Iran with either a majority or sizable population of Kurds.

In September 2022 the couple registered as asylum seekers with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They were later detained on March 25, 2024 while traveling on a bus in Çanakkale, Turkey.

After being taken into custody, Mohammadi and Hoseini were brought before a court in western Tekirdağ province. The court ruled that they had violated Turkish border laws and ordered their deportation. Since then, they have been held at the Kırklareli Pehlivanköy Repatriation Center.

Lawyer Arar has been vocal about the couple’s dire situation. “Since their arrest, they have been held at Kırklareli Pehlivanköy Repatriation Center,” Arar told Rudaw. He plans to appeal the deportation decision and seek permission for the couple to remain in Turkey as asylum seekers.

Human rights organizations have also been urged to intervene. Keywan Durudi, a friend of the journalists and a human rights activist, warned of the grave danger they face if returned to Iran. “If they are handed over to Iran, their lives will be in serious danger,” Durudi told Rudaw, calling on human rights groups to take action to prevent their deportation.

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