On March 1st 2019, the Bulgarian police has detained a Turkish citizen from the Kurdish minority Mr. Ilhan Karabag, who was living in Bulgaria for 3 years. He lived in Ovcha Kupel in a camp of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR). The reason given for his arrest is a request for deportation from the Turkish state on the account of participating in a political organization which is banned in Turkey. He is not persecuted for any other crimes aside from being a member of the said banned organization.
Since the moment he was arrested Mr. Karabag is detained at the main building of the National Investigative Service with the right to receive visitations only two times per month. Until now he has attended three sessions in the Sofia City Court (SCC). On the last two of them a representative of the Turkish diplomatic mission in Bulgaria was present in the court hall. The presence of this representative is seen as a brutal attempt to put pressure on the decision of the court. On April 9th the court has decided to deport Mr. Karabag but the decision is appealed in front of a higher court – the Sofia Court of Appeal (SAC). The date for the next session is still to be announced.
The unfortunate decision of the court means that Mr. Karabag is facing a long-term prison sentence in Turkey for being politically active and without committing an actual crime. The Initiative for Migrant Solidarity issued a statement against the deportation of Mr. Karabag: “Taking the decision for the deportation of Mr. Karabag in Turkey, the Bulgarian state is easily sending a human life into the hands of the Turkish authoritarian jurisdiction and violates the international conventions for providing refuge to the politically persecuted people.“
In the recent years there were other instances happening, that have ended quickly with the deportation of Turkish citizens from Bulgaria to Turkey. Bordermonitoring Bulgaria (BMB) is sharing the concern of an unfair asylum procedure, which is furthermore based on the statistics of applications and granting of protection status at first instance in the last year: Not a single person from Turkey who asked for asylum in the year of 2018, was accepted by the SAR.