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TURKEY: UN urges Turkey not to deport persecuted Ahmadi asylum-seekers

TURKEY: UN urges Turkey not to deport persecuted Ahmadi asylum-seekers

“Türkiye must not deport members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light seeking asylum”: UN experts

The European Times NewsThe European Times (05.07.2023) – UN human rights experts* asked Turkey last Tuesday not to deport over 100 members of a persecuted religious minority who were seized last month at the Turkish-Bulgarian border. They also urged the government to do an accurate risk assessment of their situation in order to avoid refoulement (the practice of sending refugees or asylum seekers), which could result in serious violations of human rights. Two NGOs (CAP Freedom of Conscience and Human Rights Without Frontiers) also advocated for the same during a conference organized by the OSCE ODIHR.

The UN experts tell Turkiye Ahmadis are at risk

Under international law, the Government of Türkiye is called to act in line with its obligation not to deport 101 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, who may be at risk of serious human rights violations if they are returned to their countries of origin, the experts said.

On May 24, 2023, a group of 104 Ahmadis including 27 women and 22 children, arrived at the Turkish side of the Kapikule border, requesting asylum in Bulgaria. Turkish police allegedly used excessive force to stop them, injuring at least 30 members of the gathering, including nine women. Turkish authorities arrested them at the Edirne police station.

According to the experts, numerous people have been tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman, or humiliating treatment by police officers, including beatings, sexual harassment, and purposeful sleep deprivation.

The group was subsequently moved to the deportation centre in Edirne, and the Turkish Ministry of Interior issued deportation orders for 101 people.

The UN experts stated:

“Since the inception of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light in 1999, its members have been labelled as heretics and infidels and are often subjected to threats, violence, and illegal detention”.

And further added that these Ahmadis:

“(Ahmadis) are particularly at risk of detention due to blasphemy laws, in violation of their right to freedom of religion or belief,”

The group consists of people who fled to Turkey from various Muslim-majority nations owing to religious persecution.

According to the experts, one of those facing deportation spent six months in jail in his home country after being accused of offences such as insulting Islam and offending the Prophet. Another 15 have recently been released on bond after being arrested for belonging to a ‘deviant cult’ in their country.

“The prohibition of refoulement is absolute and non-derogable under international human rights and refugee law,” the experts said.

“States are obliged not to remove any individual from their territory when there are substantial grounds to believe the person could be subjected to serious human rights violations in the State of destination,” the UN experts said.

“Given the risks of human rights violations this group faces as a religious minority, Türkiye is required to make an individual, impartial and independent assessment of the protection needs of each person and the risks they may face if returned to their countries,” the experts said.

Denouncing the situation at the OSCE

CAP Freedom of Conscience and Human Rights Without Frontiers, two well-known NGOs working to defend Freedom of Religion or Belief inside Europe and abroad, and who have been keeping the UN experts timely informed of the situation, also too the opportunity of the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting III of the OSCE ODIHR meeting on 27 June 2023 in Hofburg, Viennastated that they:

“are deeply concerned about the situation of over 100 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light who have been blocked by the Turkish authorities at the Turkish-Bulgarian border since the end of May. Ankara has decided to deport them back to their home countries where they would face imprisonment, torture and even execution in the case of Iran. They were denied entry of the European Union and faced violent treatment by the Turkish authorities, assaulting, kicking, and beating them with batons and firing gunshots in the air. Afterwards, they were transferred to the Edirne detention center where they still are. The Ahmadi Religion minority has been subjected to harsh persecution in numerous Muslim- majority countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, and Turkey because they are considered heretics. CAP/ Conscience et Liberté and Human Rights Without Frontiers urge Turkey to immediately annul all deportation orders and to grant them asylum in a safer land outside Turkey”.

The experts: Nazila Ghanea, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Priya Gopalan (Chair-Rapporteur), Matthew Gillett (Vice-Chair on Communications), Ganna Yudkivska (Vice-Chair on Follow-Up), Miriam Estrada-Castillo, and Mumba Malila, Working Group on arbitrary detention; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Further reading about FORB in Turkey on HRWF website


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TURKEY-EU: 103 Ahmadis to be deported/ HRWF calls upon the UN, EU and OSCE

TURKEY-EU: HRWF calls upon the UN, EU and OSCE to ask Turkey to annul a deportation order to 103 Ahmadis

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

The European Times News

The European Times (29.05.2023) – Today, a Turkish court has released a deportation order concerning 103 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light from seven countries. Many of them, especially in Iran, will face imprisonment and may be executed if they are sent back to their country of origin.


Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) in Brussels calls upon


  • the United Nations and in particular the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ms Nazila Ghanea
  • the European Union and in particular the EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Mr Frans Van Daele, as well as the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief
  • the Special Envoys on Freedom of Religion or Belief appointed in the United Kingdom and in a number of EU Member States
  • the OSCE/ ODIHR


to urge the Turkish authorities to cancel on appeal today’s decision of deportation. The deadline for the appeal is Friday 2 June.


Media outlets all over Europe are raising the issue as an emergency situation as it can be seen in a few of many more articles in


Global Voices


The Sofia Globe

La Fonte Libera

La Dama Deelche

The European Times

Human Rights Without Frontiers


Moreover, a petition is being circulated.


The advocate and spokesperson of the 103 Ahmadis is Hadil Elkhouly. She is the author of the article hereafter published in Global Voices on 27 May and can be joined at the following phone number for interviews: +44 7443 106804

Persecuted Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light minority denied asylum in Europe amidst escalating violence

Minority religious members fear death at home for alleged heresy

Hadil Elkhouly

On the May 24, 2023, over 100 members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light, a persecuted religious minority, were denied entry and faced violent treatment while seeking asylum at the Turkish–Bulgarian border. Women, children, and elderly were among those targeted by aggression, gunshots, threats, and the confiscation of their possessions.

Among those individuals was Seyed Ali Seyed Mousavi, a 40-year-old real estate agent from Iran. A few years ago, he attended a private wedding where his life took an unexpected turn. Seyed Mousavi found himself at the mercy of undercover police officers who abruptly grabbed him, forced him down, and subjected him to a severe beating. He was left to bleed for 25 minutes before someone finally sought medical assistance.

Seyed Mousavi’s only “crime” was his affiliation with this religious minority, which led to his persecution by the authorities in Iran. The incident forced him to make a difficult decision to leave his homeland behind, abandoning everything he knows in order to preserve his life.

The Ahmadi Religion, not to be confused with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is a religious community that was founded in 1999. It received chruch status in the USA on 6 June 2019. Today, this religion is practiced in more than 30 countries around the world. It is headed by Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq and follows the teachings of Imam Ahmed al-Hassan as its divine guide.

State sponsored persecution

Since its inception in 1999, the Ahmadi Religion minority has been subjected to persecution in numerous nations. Countries including AlgeriaMoroccoEgyptIran,IraqMalaysia, and Turkey have systematically oppressed them, imprisoned, threatened, and even tortured their members. This targeted discrimination is based on a belief that they are heretics.

In June 2022, Amnesty International called for the release of 21 members of the Ahmadi Religion in Algeria who were charged with offenses including “participation in an unauthorized group” and “denigrating Islam.” Three individuals received one year prison sentences, while the remaining were sentenced to six months in prison along with fines.

Similarly, in Iran, in December 2022, a group of 15 followers of the same religion, including minors and women, were detained and transferred to the notorious Evin Prison, where they were coerced to denounce their faith and defame their religion, despite not committing any crimes, nor preaching their faith openly. The charges brought against them were based on their opposition to “Wilayat Al Faqih,” (the guardianship of the Islamic jurist) which grants authority to jurists and scholars who shape and enforce Sharia law in the country. The Iranian authorities even aired a propaganda documentary against the religion on national television.

Ahmadi Religion members have also reported violence and threats by state-sponsored militias in Iraq, leaving them vulnerable and unprotected. These incidents involved armed attacks targeting their homes and vehicles, with assailants openly declaring they are considered apostates deserving death, effectively denying them of any form of protection.

The persecution of the Ahmadi Religion stems from its core teachings that diverge from certain traditional beliefs within Islam. These teachings include the acceptance of practices such as consuming alcoholic beverages and recognizing the choice of women regarding the wearing of the headscarf. Additionally, members of the religion question specific prayer rituals, including the notion of mandatory five daily prayers, and hold the belief that the month of fasting (Ramadan) falls in December each year. They also challenge the traditional location of the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, asserting it is in modern-day Petra, Jordan, rather than Mecca.

The persecution of this religious minority has escalated significantly following the release of “The Goal of the Wise,” the official gospel of their faith. The scripture was authored by Abdullah Hashem Aba Al-Sadiq, the religious leader who asserted to fulfill the role of the promised Mahdi awaited by Muslims to appear towards the end of times.

Braving the unknown towards freedom

Having gradually traveled to Turkey, over 100 members of the Ahmadi Religion received support from fellow members who had already settled there, fostering a sense of unity through their online connections. Despite the challenges they faced, they persevered in their quest to find a persecution-free home amidst their shared experiences of trauma.

Faced with this dire situation, they turned to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bulgaria, the State Agency for Refugees (SAR), and the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the hopes of securing a safe haven. Unfortunately, their plea for humanitarian visas was met with disappointment as all avenues proved unfruitful.

In light of their challenging circumstances, the group decided to gather at the official Kapikule border crossing, the gateway between Turkey and Bulgaria on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, to request asylum directly from the Bulgarian Border Police. Their course of action aligns with the provisions set forth in Article 58(4) of the Law on Asylum and Refugees (LAR) which affirms that asylum can be sought by presenting a verbal statement to the border police.

The Border Violence Monitoring Network, along with 28 other organizations, issued an open letter urging the Bulgarian authorities and to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) to fulfill their obligations under European Union law, and international human rights law.  These laws include Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Bulgaria, several human rights organizations have coordinated to grant protection to the group and allow them an opportunity to lodge an application for international protection at the Bulgarian border, an effort that was spearheaded by the Association on Refugees and Migrants in Bulgaria. Many other organizations in Bulgaria have endorsed this statement, such as Mission Wings and the Centre for Legal Aid, Voices in Bulgaria.

Their desperate bid for safety was encountered with oppression and violence, as they were forcibly blocked by the Turkish authorities, subjected to beatings with batons, and threatened with gunshots. Now detained, their future remains uncertain. Their greatest fear is to be deported back to their homes, where death might be waiting for them, due to their religious beliefs.

The perilous journey undertaken by this minority group raises crucial questions about the integrity of borders and the commitment of EU member states to uphold human rights. Their struggles serve as a reminder of the need for solidarity to protect basic human rights and preserve the dignity of everyone, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Photo : Members of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light. Kapikule border crossing, the gateway between Turkey and Bulgaria on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Pictures owned by Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light. Used with permission.

Further reading about FORB in Turkey and EU on HRWF website

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