6Rang, 19 March 2020: Three Iranian LGBTI refugees are stuck at the border of Greece and Turkey, and are under threat of being killed. Shahrooz, a gay man, Arad, a trans man, and Fariba, Arad’s partner, have been subjected to police violence since the end of February.
On 28th February, 2020, the Turkish authorities opened their north western borders to the EU for refugees. Although there were no agreements from Greece and Bulgaria, hundreds of Iranian and Afghan refugees who had been stuck in limbo in Turkey made their way to the border in hopes of finally being accepted by the EU. Meanwhile, both Bulgaria and Greece have tightened border security in light of Covid-19 and are not accepting non-EU citizens. Conditions at the border are dire and authorities from all three countries have been acting with violence, particularly towards LGBTI refugees, as the reports received by 6Rang confirm.
Living as asylum seekers in Turkey and waiting for five years for resettlement, Fariba, Arad and Shahrooz were put in a van and taken to the border after they went to the police in Antalya to register, as they do routinely, on 28th February. All refugees waiting for resettlement in Turkey must register with the police weekly or they risk deportation. All their belongings were taken away and they feared deportation as they were not told of their destination. When they arrived in Pazarkule border near the city of Edirne, they were given their phones and told to leave Turkey, forcing them to abandon their rented homes, clothes and furniture behind.
Once there, they became face to face with the reality of their situation, and have had to endure endless tear gas attacks and cramped living conditions. The refugees have been left at the Turkish-Greek border indicated by a line of barbed wire. The Turkish Police are tear gassing them to drive them away from the Turkish side and the Greek Police are doing the same to keep them from entering Greece. Depicted below is the location and the border these refugees are stuck in:
They have described the inhumane conditions they are now living in. “A few days ago, I was beaten by a police officer for no reason in line for food. I had the air knocked out of my lungs and fell to the ground,” Fariba told 6Rang. Fariba described an event where she was almost attacked by other refugees at the border for waving the LGBT flag at the Greek border in hopes of being given refuge. Food is scarce and they are unable to maintain personal hygiene, making the situation even worse, especially due to the growing pandemic.
“Both Turkish and Greece police brutalities are illegal and a blatant violation of their commitment on respecting human rights. All refugees, in particular LGBTI ones, must be evacuated immediately from such a life-threatening situation,” says the director of 6Rang.
Turkey and Greece are both signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights and are privy to these laws. Such conduct by both police forces is unlawful and must be stopped.
How Can You Help?
- Write to your Ministry of Foreign affairs, UNHCR and Turkish and Greek embassies where you are;
- Find lawyers to represent them as police conduct has violated EU human rights laws;
- Be in contact with the refugees and send them basic necessities;
- The smallest gesture, such as sharing their stories on your social media would bring the attention they need.
Category: Press Release