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A Syrian refugee has been arbitrarily detained in inhumane conditions at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport since 15 March 2015. He is at continued risk of being returned to Syria.

Syrian national F.M. fled Syria in August 2012 to avoid military service. He has been detained in the “Problematic Passengers’ Room” of Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport since 15 March 2015. In November 2015 he flew to Lebanon but was denied entry and flown back. F.M.’s detention in the airport is arbitrary, as it appears to have no basis in law. F.M.’s lawyer made an application to the Turkish courts to effect his release from detention, but as of 4 March 2016, no decision had been made.

The “Problematic Passengers’ Room” has no natural light and artificial lighting is kept on at all times. There are no beds or any privacy. Being confined in such a space for an extended period of time – in this case approximately one year – may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, prohibited under domestic and international law.

F.M. has relatives in other countries who are attempting to sponsor him to obtain a visa. According to the information received, no foreign embassy representatives have interviewed F.M. in detention, although it is unclear if this is because they were denied access by the Turkish authorities, or if no attempt was actually made.

F.M. is at continued risk of being returned to Syria. Turkish authorities have returned refugees to Syria, putting them at risk of serious human rights violations. This is contrary to Turkey’s non-refoulement obligations, binding under both domestic and international law. Turkish authorities have also used detention as a means of pressuring asylum-seekers and refugees to “voluntarily” return to their countries of origin, including Syria and Iraq. F.M. has told relatives that he is considering requesting to be sent back to Syria, saying “At least there I die once and it’s over, instead of dying more and more each day I spend in here.”

Please write immediately in Turkish or your own language:

 Calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release F.M. from detention and grant him Temporary Protection status in Turkey, under Article 91 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection;

 Urging them to ensure that F.M. is not returned to Syria – or pressured to accept to return “voluntarily”;

 Calling on them to cooperate with any foreign embassies that are considering F.M.’s applications to leave Turkey by allowing embassy officers to visit him.


Minister of Interior

Mr. Efkan Ala

İçişleri Bakanlığı


Ankara, Turkey

Fax: +90 312 425 85 09

Twitter: @efkanala

Salutation: Dear Minister

Directorate General of Migration Management

Mr Atilla Toros, Director General Lalegül Çamlıca Mahallesi 122. Sokak No: 2/3 06370 Ankara, Turkey

Fax: +90 312 422 09 00 +90 312 422 09 99


Salutation: Dear Director

And copies to:

National Human Rights Institution of Turkey

Dr. Hikmet Tülenİnsan, Hakları Başkanı

Türkiye İnsan HaaklarıI Kurumu

Yüksel Caddesi No:23, Kat 3, Yenişehir 06650 Ankara, Turkey

Fax: +90 312 422 29 96


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