Turkish refugee in Spain: “If I go back to Turkey, I’ll be arrested and tortured”

The first Turkish citizen granted political asylum in Spain shows his refugee ID card. SANTI BURGOS EL PAIS
The first Turkish citizen granted political asylum in Spain shows his refugee ID card. SANTI BURGOS EL PAIS


Date posted: April 25, 2018

MIGUEL GONZÁLEZ

Two weeks after the failed coup attempt against the Turkish government in July 2016, Mustafa Yilmaz’s vacation was interrupted by a phone call at 5am. It was his neighbor calling to say that 20 police officers were outside his house in Istanbul. He didn’t mention why, but Mustafa could guess. “They had launched a witch hunt against supporters of [imam] Fethullah Gülen, who [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan accused of being behind the coup. It seemed incredible but hundreds of thousands of people had been declared terrorists overnight.”


I had no doubt that they were going to grant me asylum because Spain is a European country.

Turkish refugee Mustafa Yilmaz


Mustafa had worked for a publisher of the Islamic guild, which has some similarities to Opus Dei, and understood he was in danger. He didn’t think twice about what to do next. Unable to travel to Europe without a Schengen visa, he bought a ticket to Colombia, where Turkish citizens can travel freely. Three days later, his wife and two children met him in the capital Bogotá.

Mustafa is not really called Mustafa. He did not want to use his real name or show his face because his family and friends are still in Turkey, and he is worried they might be punished in retaliation. “In my country they lock you up without any reason – it doesn’t matter if they’re old, a baby, sick or a housewife.”


Around 50,000 people are in pre-trial detention in Turkey including judges and human rights defenders


What is real is his refugee ID card, which he received last December and treasures like a precious jewel. He was the first Turk to be granted political asylum in Spain. Since Mustafa, there have been two more: a businessman in Madrid and another in Barcelona.

Mustafa only spent three months in Bogotá. He didn’t feel safe there. He began to hear news of other Turkish exiles being kidnapped in Asia and Africa by the Turkish secret police. “More than 10,000 kilometers away, we feared Erdogan’s long claw would reach us.”

He decided to seek asylum in Spain for various reasons: he had studied in the country in 2005, spoke the language and it was a Mediterranean country that reminded him of home.


Hundreds of thousands of people had been declared terrorists overnight

Turkish refugee Mustafa Yilmaz


But he still didn’t have a visa. So he made a risky gamble. He bought tickets to Istanbul with a stopover in Madrid. When he landed in Barajas airport he approached police officers and said to them: “I want to seek asylum in Spain.”

Mustafa remembers with infinite gratitude the response of the Spanish officer: “You are welcome,” he said with a smile. Mustafa’s wife felt the knot in her stomach ease. She had been filled with doubts about the journey: “What if they don’t accept us? What if they send us to Turkey? Was it not better to stay in Bogotá?” Mustafa was nervous too, although he tried not to show it.

After almost a week in Barajas, good news arrived: Spain had agreed to process his request. Meanwhile, he was free.

In the ten-month-long process, he was interviewed twice by officials from the Interior Ministry. He told them every detail of his life and they asked him again and again about Fethullah. Mustafa did not deny supporting some of the cleric’s ideas, explaining he had read his books when he was 15 years old and heard him speak once in the United States. But he did deny being a terrorist and being involved with the coup.

“I had no doubt that they were going to grant me asylum because Spain is a European country, a constitutional state and everyone knows what is happening in Turkey,” he explains.

According to the latest Amnesty International report, around 50,000 people are in pre-trial detention in Turkey and more than 100,000 have been let go. Among those detained are judges, prosecutors, military members, journalists, human-rights defenders and leaders of not-for-profit organizations.

Mustafa is certain he will spend a long period of time in Spain. “Erdogan doesn’t want to give up his throne. In Turkey, there is no opposition or free press so I don’t have any hope that things will change.” If he goes back now, he says, “I will be arrested in the airport in Istanbul, detained and tortured, like many I know.”

It is hoped this dire situation will be addressed when Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy soon meets with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the La Moncloa palace for the first bilateral summit since 2014.


English version by Melissa Kitson.

Source: El Pais , April 24, 2018


Related News

SCF Reveals Mass Torture And Abuse In An Unofficial Detention Facility In Turkey’s Capital

“I heard all kinds of curse and swearing against my family during the interrogation. They threatened me with raping my family members. I saw one man who had a black eye on his eyes. I witnessed another man as having difficulty in walking because police shoved a baton into his anus. So many victims have marks in their bodies from abuse and torture.”

Lawyers confirm: Turkish teachers are still in Kosovo

Lawyers representing six Turkish teachers who were arrested in Kosovo on Thursday, have released a written statement in which they confirmed that the teachers have not been deported to Turkey yet.

Kimse Yok Mu continues its aid for Bosnian flood victims

BOSNIA Kimse Yok Mu Foundation has been continuing its aid efforts in the aftermath of the devastating flood in Bosnia. Among the regions impacted by the flood, Bosanski Samac, the late president Aliya Izzetbegovic’s hometown, suffered the most. While the floodwater receded in the neighboring cities in two-three days, Samac, which is located between the […]

Social and Philosophical Aspects of Fethullah Gulen’s Teachings

Dialogue Eurasia Platform organized one more event in order to establish understanding between peoples, to eliminate mutual prejudices, to help people to get to know each other better and to establish bridges of dialogue. More than 200 academicians, journalists, writers gathered in Crowne Plaza hotel in order to take part in the presentation of a […]

Turkey’s Deputy PM: 2.4 Pct Of Public Sector Employees Discharged Over Alleged Gülen Links

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has announced that some 2.4 percent of Turkish public sector workers have been discharged over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Dismissed after coup attempt, teacher detained during visit to imprisoned relative

Malatya teacher C.K., earlier dismissed from his/her post as part of the government’s post-coup purge, was taken into custody during a visit to his/her jailed relative on Saturday.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu soup kitchen to serve weekly hot meal in Somalia

PM Erdoğan widens hostile stance to include more and more groups

Turkish Scholar Fethullah Gulen Speaks about PKK

Hundreds of thousands homeless as Turkey’s southeast lay in ruins

An instructive crisis

Approval rate of Turkish schools abroad at 78 percent

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News