Greece: Acts of harassment against defenders working on the rights of minorities in Greece

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Greece.

Brief description of the situation:

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture network, about acts of harassment against defenders working on the rights of minorities in Greece, including the arbitrary detention for a night and expulsion from Greece of Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı, President of the organisation “Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association”[1].

According to the information received, from September 19 to 22, 2016 a nine-person delegation[2] conducted a fact-finding mission to Western Thrace on the situation of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace. On September 21, 2016, during the journey from Komotini (Rodopi) to Didymoteicho (Evros), the delegation’s van was tailed by two unknown cars taking turns for an hour drive. After the delegation stopped at a petrol station near Didumoteicho, the second car also parked on a side unpaved road. After seeing that some members of the delegation were taking pictures of their license plate, the car’s drivers sped away.

In Didymoteicho, the members of the Turkish minority association Educational and Cultural Association of Didymoteicho Evros Muslims informed the delegation that they are routinely surveilled by police security agents during their activities, as an act of intimidation.

Moreover, on August 30, 2016, the Greek police arrested Mr. Kaymakçı in a restaurant at Platani (Kermentes) in Kos (İstanköy). They took him to the police station where Mr. Kaymakci was informed that official “national measure” of prohibition to enter Greece number P358265 had been issued against him by the Hellenic Police Headquarters/State Security Division/Department on Social Issues and Combatting Racism on July 18, 2016. Mr. Kaymakçı was however not notified of such a prohibition when he entered the country in Rhodes on August 27 with the aim to conduct a research for a new project of his organisation about geography, architecture and Turkish traditions in Rhodes and Kos.

He was not provided a copy of such official document either at the moment of his arrest. Instead, he was provided with a document specifying that he could be detained up to six months renewable once for another twelve months, under Article 18(g) of Law 3907/2011 for “risk of absconding”, in case the individual refuses to be returned, expressly refuses to comply with the return decision, holds forged documents, provides false information to authorities, has criminal convictions or charges against him or is a suspect to have committed or to commit serious crimes, and in case of absence of travel documents, passed absconding and refusal to comply with existing entry ban. None of these cases applied though to Mr. Kaumakci. The detention decision mentioned in the end the right to appeal before the administrative court.

Mr. Kaymakçı was held in detention in the Kos police station for one night. On August 31 he was asked to sign a document in Greek, which he was told was a formal declaration that he was waving his right to use legal remedies and wished to be repatriated. He was not given a copy of that declaration. Instead, he was given Dodecanese Police Division decision number 6634/1/16/9267b for repatriation with detention and for inclusion of his name in the National List of Undesirable Persons for three years, in which there was a reference to the formal declaration. It was also mentioned that he would not be freed for reasons of public order and national security, without mentioning on which grounds,, and could be detained for six months plus an additional twelve months if necessary. Orally, he was told that they would detain him indefinitely if he did not sign the formal declaration. Afterwards, he was expelled to Bodrum (Alikarnasso) Turkey at 16h30 on August 31

Mr. Kaymakçı reported that he was detained at the Kos police station in an overcrowded room of 30 square meters with 20 other persons with only a small window, in conditions amounting to ill-treatment.

The International Secretariat of OMCT would like to stress that the legal provisions used for both the detention and the repatriation decisions were not applicable to Mr. Kaymakci as he had not entered unlawfully the country and was not staying in the country in defiance of any decision to leave he might have been aware of. Moreover, he should have been notified in advance of any decision regarding him and been handed over the legal documentation of the decision to put him on the Undesirable Persons List, as well as been given a time frame to comply with such order.

OMCT fears that such arbitrary detention and repatriation of Mr. Kaymakci, who had visited Rhodes without any problems in September 2015, only aims at sanctioning his legitimate activities in defense of the rights of minorities on Greek soil. In fact, the 18 July 2016 decision against him was issued on the very same day that the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) widely published a resolution submitted by its member organisation the “Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association” on the situation of the Turkish community in Rhodes and Kos[3].

It has to be recalled that the issue of the violation of human rights of Greek citizens of Turkish descent in Rhodes and Kos was addressed in February 2011 by a report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights,[4] that was followed by a PACE resolution on the same topic in March 2012.[5] Moreover, on August 26, 2016 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern in its Concluding Observations on Greece regarding the treatment reserved to ethnic minorities in the country, particularly focusing on those living in the islands of Rhodes and Kos, denied the right to self-identification.[6]

The International Secretariat of OMCT condemns the arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and expulsion of Mr. Kaymakçı, as well as the acts of surveillance against all minority rights activists in Greece, as they seem to only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, and calls upon the Greek authorities to put an end to any restrictions to his freedom of movement.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Greece, urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı and all other minority rights activists, as well as of all human rights defenders in the country;
  2. Guarantee Mr. Mustafa Kaymakçı’s freedom of movement and withdraw the prohibition to enter the country which was posed against him, as it aims only at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities;
  3. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all minority rights defenders in Greece;
  4. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1 and 12.2; and
  5. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Greece.

Addresses:

  • Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Alexis Tsipras, Email: mail@primeminister.gr
  • Alternate Minister of Immigration Policy of Greece, Mr. Giannis Mouzalas, Fax: +30 213 136 4418, Email: gram.anaplypourgou@ypes.gr
  • Alternate Minister for Citizens Protection of Greece, Mr. Nikolaos Toskas, Fax: +30 210 692 9764, Email: minister@mopocp.gov.gr
  • Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece, Mr. Ioannis Tsaousis, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 732 21 50; Email: grdel.gva@mfa.gr
  • Ambassador of Greece, H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki, Embassy of Greece in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 2 545 5585, Email: gremb.bru@mfa.gr
  • Permanent Representative of Greece, H.E. Papastavrou Andreas, Permanent Representation to the European Union (EU), Fax: +32 2 5515651, 5127912
    Email: mea.bruxelles@rp-greece.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Greece in your respective country.

***

Geneva, October 26, 2016

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.


[1]           The Rhodes, Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association has the aim of defending the cultural rights of the Turkish community in Rhodes and Kos, by preserving their cultural identity, language and traditions, in particular through the promotion of bilingual education. It also carries out advocacy activities at the international level.

[2] The nine-person delegation included two MEPs Nils Torvalds MEP (ALDE) who belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and is Co-Chairperson of the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages and Pal Csaky MEP (EPP) who belongs to the Hungarian minority in Slovakia. Moreover, it included seven NGO representatives: Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) President Halit Habip Oğlu, Vice-President Mehmet Hüseyin, Head Office Manager Engin Soyyılmaz, and Member of the International Affairs and Lobbying Group Ali Çavuş, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) Secretary General Marino Busdachin, Member of the Board of Centre Maurits Coppieters (CMC) and Vice-President of the European Free Alliance (EFA) Miguel Martinez Tomey, and Spokesperson of the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) Panayote Dimitras.

[3] See the resolution at https://www.fuen.org/fileadmin/user_upload/congress_2016/Resolution_2016-07_EN.pdf

[4] http:/assembly.coe.int/ASP/Doc/XrefViewHTML.asp?FileID=12646&Language=EN

[5] http:/assembly.coe.int/ASP/XRef/X2H-DW-XSL.asp?fileid=18075&lang=EN

[6] http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=CERD/C/GRC/CO/20-22&Lang=E

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