Since the attempted coup in Turkey in summer 2016, the number of asylum applications by Turkish citizens in Germany has increased significantly. In 2019, Turkish asylum seekers were the third-most-registered group, after Syrians and Iraqis, according to the country’s agency for migration and refugees (BAMF). EURACTIV Germany reports.
“On the basis of the information available, we assume that the high number of asylum applications by Turkish citizens is also due to the political situation in Turkey,” the ministry of the interior, building and community (BMI) stated at the request of EURACTIV Germany.
According to BAMF figures for 2019, about a quarter of all Turkish asylum seekers were granted refugee protection because they were recognised as fugitives due to persecution, which is more often the case than for refugees coming from other countries.
As the number of asylum applications increases, so does the rate of protection. However, this does not apply to all asylum seekers.
Different rates of protection
“For many groups in Turkey, state persecution has intensified in recent years,” according to Wiebke Judith of the NGO PRO ASYL. While until 2015 it was mainly members of the Kurdish minority who applied for asylum in Germany, according to current figures from the BAMF, most asylum applications are now filed by non-Kurdish Turkish citizens.
Since the attempted coup in 2016, mostly journalists, academics, members of the opposition parties and (alleged) supporters of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is wanted by Turkey, have been persecuted and their applications for asylum are most frequently granted.
“This is due to the fact that all repressive measures against supporters of the Gülen movement in Turkey are documented in an accessible system,” Christopher Wohnig, who represents Turkish asylum seekers, told EURACTIV Germany.
In contrast, members of the Kurdish minority find it harder to prove persecution, which is why, according to the lawyer, the rate of positive asylum decisions for this group is significantly lower.
Many state officials have fled
Civil servants accused of being close to the Gülen movement have a particularly good chance of being recognised as refugees in Germany, says Wohnig. According to the country’s interior ministry, almost 2,000 holders of special civil servant passports applied for asylum by the end of last year, and more than 300 of them hold diplomatic passports.
However, an increase in asylum applications by Turkish citizens is not observed only in Germany. While in 2017, some 15,500 applications of Turkish citizens were registered throughout the EU, the following year, there were already about 23,000. Throughout the EU, Turkish nationals rank as the seventh biggest group of migrants.
Meanwhile, Europe is particularly concerned about the significant deterioration in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey, particularly with basic procedural rights being suspended, as the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, noted in a report published in February this year.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]