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Finnish court blocks deportation of Kurdish men facing Turkish prison

Finland's Supreme Administrative Court has stayed enforcement of a deportation order for two Kurdish men facing prison sentences for alleged terrorist crimes committed in Turkey. The men were tried in Turkish courts for terrorist crimes, but Finnish experts say the men had merely been engaging in normal political activity.

demir alpay, serhat turan
Demir Alpay (vasemmalla) ja Serhat Turan kertovat hakevansa turvaa Turkin poliittiselta vainolta.

The Supreme Administrative Court has blocked deportation of two Kurdish men accused of terrorist activities in the Turkish courts.

Serhat Turan fled to Finland in December 2015, while his compatriot Demir Alpay sought refuge in August 2016. Both men are Turkish Kurds and have both been imprisoned for in Turkey for their political activities. They both also claim that they have been abused and tortured while in detention.

Last spring Finnish immigration authorities denied the men’s asylum applications, triggering the deportation order, which the court has now stayed.

However the deportation ban does not automatically mean that the Supreme Administrative Court will reverse the negative asylum decision.

It does suggest, however, that the court is considering granting the men leave to appeal the decision by the immigration authorities to reject their asylum claim. It also means that the deportation will not proceed before the court has been able to review the case.

Terrorist activities or political activism?

Both men are Turkish Kurds who have been detained in Turkish prisons for their political activities focusing on highlighting the plight of minority Kurds in the country. Finnish experts on Turkey previously criticised the decision by Finnish immigration officials to reject the men’s asylum applications.

They pointed out that the Turkish government has a low threshold for condemning people as terrorists, when they have been engaging in what might otherwise be seen as normal political activism.

The men filed an appeal against their rejected asylum claims with the Supreme Administrative Court in mid-April, so seven months have elapsed since the deportation order was issued.

"There have been other [cases] before. I remember one case, where one year elapsed from the deportation order," said Ville Punto, a lawyer representing the men.

The lawyer said that usually the delay between the issue and execution of a deportation order lasts a few months.

"Apparently this case was not closely examined before now, and this has resulted in so many applications [to appeal] coming before the administrative court," he added.

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