The NGO Human Rights Watch reports collective expulsions and migrants beaten by Turkish soldiers on the border between Turkey and Iran.
For Afghans fleeing the Taliban regime and wanting to travel to Europe, Turkey is often a must. To enter, they must cross the Turkish-Iranian border on foot. A grueling march, but nothing compared to what the Turkish soldiers sometimes inflict upon them when intercepting them, according to Human Rights Watch, which reports collective expulsions and migrants beaten, sometimes to the point of having their limbs fractured.
The NGO gathered testimonies from six Afghans who suffered or witnessed the violence. Five of them are in hiding in Turkey today, and almost all claim to have attempted multiple crossings. They describe Turkish soldiers firing shots over their heads to make them retreat. Two men say they were beaten by soldiers with the butt of their weapon. They claim that other men, covered in blood, had their legs, hands or arms broken. All tell of scenes of evictions of entire groups, from 50 to 300 people, sometimes with separated families, including children separated from their parents.
« Turkish soldiers tortured the men »
Yasamin, a young Afghan girl who fled Kabul, confirms the accusations made by Human Rights Watch. She left Kabul on August 17, two days after the Taliban entered the city. With her 18-year-old brother, a year younger than her, she fled by road, by taxi, via Iran. About twenty kilometers from the Turkish border, she and her brother joined a group of 250 people who were guided by smugglers through the night and the mountains that separate Iran from Turkey.
For Yasamin, this march towards the border remains a very painful memory. « At the border, we were stopped twice by the soldiers. The Turkish soldiers tortured the men, as I am a woman, they did nothing to me. They did nothing to my little one either. brother, but to the other men who were there, yes, a lot. » When asked what she means by « torture », Yasamin speaks of beatings to the body and to the head, with fists, feet, weapons, for more than half an hour, of soldiers who were shouting at the group of migrants: « Go back to Iran! Turkey is not your home! »
Dozens of arrests every day
Facts that Human Rights Watch describes as « violations of international law », including the principle of non-refoulement. In this case, refoulement to Iran, which continues to send Afghans back to their country. Since the return of the Taliban, Turkey claims to have halted deportations to Afghanistan.
What is certain is that dozens of illegal Afghans are arrested every day in Turkey and sent to a detention center, which is the last step before deportation. Yasamin now lives in Istanbul. But the young woman is very worried, she goes out as little as possible for fear of being arrested. Since leaving Kabul with the rest of their family there, Yasamin and his brother have dreamed of only one thing: to continue their journey to Europe.