Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 127

Citation: 2020 RLLR 127
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: November 16, 2020
Panel: Josée Bouchard
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Rebeka Lauks
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB8-30121
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000071-000076

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER:  This is the decision for following Claimant, [XXX], File Number TB8-30121.  You are claiming to be a citizen of Turkey and are claiming refuge protection pursuant to section 96 and 97 (1) one of the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act. I have considered your testimony and the other evidence in the case.  And I am ready to render my decision orally.  I find that you have established a serious possibility of persecution in Turkey by virtue of your imputed political opinion and your membership in a particular social group namely because of your familiar relationship to your father. The specifics of your claim are said out in the narrative of your Basis of Claim Form filed as Exhibit 2. The following is a summary your allegations.

[2]       You are a citizen of Turkey. You fear persecution at the hands of Turkish authorities and members of the Justice and Development Party or AKP… AKP. Because of your imputed political opinion as a former [XXX] who is perceived to be a member or supporter of Gulenist Movement and oppose to the government and AKP… AKP. You also allege a fear of persecution at the hands of Turkish Authorities and Members of the AKP because of your membership with the particular social group namely your familiar relationship to your father who is under investigation for his imputed membership in the Gulenist Movement.  You allege that there is no state protection for you or an Internal Flight Alternative. Your personal identity as a citizen of Turkey has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents filed as Exhibit 1, namely your passport issued by the government of Turkey and your Turkish Identity Card. I find that on the balance of probabilities, identity and country of reference have been established. I find that there is a link between what you fear in one of grounds under section 96 of the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act, namely political opinion and membership in a particular social group. Therefore, I assessed your claim under section 96 of that act. The test under section 96, is whether there is a serious possibility of persecution should you return to Turkey and I have found that you have met that test.

[3]       In terms of your general credibility, I found you to be a credible witness and I therefore believe what you have alleged in your total… oral testimony in your Basis of Claim Form. Your evidence was detailed and consistent both internally and with your documentation. Throughout the hearing you were articulate, responsive and forthright. You are able to elaborate on your narrative and gave detailed explanations to the questions. Your claim was well supported and I know that no material inconsistencies or omissions searched at presumption of truthfulness could be rebutted.

[4]       Specifically you have established on a balance of probabilities of following. In [XXX] 2012, you joined Turkish Armed Forces as a [XXX]. You were also chosen to attend in [XXX] 2016, training at the [XXX] (phonetics) second main [XXX]. You filed documents in support of this claim. You heard about the July 15, 2016 coup attempt which according to the authorities, more specifically the Justice And Development Party or AKP was conducted by the Gulenist Movement. You heard about the attempt that day while visiting your parents. Your [XXX] ordered you to return to the [XXX] which you did that day. You were ordered to stay at the [XXX] until [XXX] 2016. On July 31, 2016, Decree 669 ordered the closer of ail military schools and aca… academies. All cadets of military academies and military high schools including [XXX] were dismissed from the military. You filed excerpts of Decree 669 in support of your claim.  The stated aim of the decree was to take the necessary measures to fight against terrorism. The AKP in power during attempted coup blamed the Gulenist Movement and labelled it a terrorist movement. You justified that the dismissed [XXX] were perceived as affiliated to a terrorist organisation the Gulenist Movement. Decree 669 provided that senior [XXX] up to graduate would still receive Diplomas from different Universities.

[5]       You received your Diploma from [XXX] University in [XXX].  The Diploma states that it is issued pursuant to Decree 669. You filed the Diploma as an exhibit. You believe that, this confirms that you have been a permanently blacklisted by the regime as a terrorist. You had several former [XXX] classmates who have had to flee Turkey and become refugees elsewhere who have been killed by lynching and who have been sentenced to life imprison for their imputed affiliation with the Gulenist Movement. In [XXX] 2017, you filed a petition to the Ankara 6th administrative court to get reinstated into the military. You filed as an exhibit the decision of the court rejecting your petition. On [XXX] 2018, the police raided the house of your closest friend and former [XXX] classmate. He had to flee to Germany, where he is now a refugee. That is when you realize that you would also be targeted. On [XXX] 2018, arrest warrants were released for 120 [XXX]. You hid until you had the means to leave for Canada on [XXX] 2018.

[6]       In [XXX] 2020, your uncle and father informed you that there is a warrant for your arrest. Your father tried to get further information about the charges, but was not provided with such information. You filed statements from your uncle and father and supported this claim along with an official document informing your father that the charges against you are confidential, but providing a file number for the case against you.

[7]       Before the coup attempt, your father was a [XXX] in the General Directorate of [XXX].   He was dismissed on [XXX] 2017 by decree 679. He later learned that… that he was named as Gulenist Movement follower. Your father filed a petition to the Ankara 16th administrative court to be reinstated into the [XXX]. You filed as an exhibit the decision of the Ankara 16th administrative court, rejecting your father’s petition. You filed the decision of the Ankara 25th administrative court supporting your claim that there is an on-going investigation into your father’s imputed involvement with the Gulenist Movement.  You testified that one of your former [XXX] classmates was arrested just last week by the Turkish authorities.

[8]       You also produced a significant amount of documentation in support of your claim. These documents include the following filed as Exhibit 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3, your [XXX] identification card supporting the claim that you were a [XXX] in the [XXX]. The authorities in Turkey announced that 95 percent of [XXX] were followers of the Gulenist Movement. Your [XXX] and [XXX] indicating that they were issued in accordance with decree 669. Your Turkish [XXX] student vacation document confirming that you stayed at the [XXX] (phonetics) second main [XXX] for two weeks following the coup attempt.

[9]       Record document from the Ankara 16th administrative court, supporting the claim that your father petitioned to reverse your dismissal as a [XXX]. A letter of support from a close friend and former [XXX] supporting the claim that he was targeted by the authorities and is now a refugee in Germany. It also supports that the claim that some of your former [XXX] colleagues were sentenced to life imprisonment after the coup attempt.

[10]     Letters from your and uncles supporting the claim that in [XXX] 2020, the authorities approached your uncle looking for you and told your uncle that there was an arrest warrant against you. A petition made by your father in [XXX] 2020, requesting to know the crime for which you are sought by police, the authorities released the number of the case against you, but no further information. Documents supporting your claim that your father was [XXX] with the General Directorate of [XXX] that he was suspended after the attempted coup and eventually dismissed. A decision from the 25th administrative court of Ankara from the summer of 2020 supporting a claim that there is an on-going investigation against your father. There is no reason for me to cast any doubt on the voracity of these documents and as such, I pla… place great weight on these documents to support the allegation and overall claim.

[11]     I find that your subjective fear is established by your credible testimony and I believe what you have alleged on a balance of probabilities.  The objective country reports are consistent with your evidence about the plight of former [XXX] who are imputed to be followers of the Gulenist Movement. The National Documentation package for Turkey dated March 31st, 2020 at exhibit 3 item 1.7 states that the Gulenist Movement is a term used to describe those who follow the US based Islamic Cleric Fethullah Gulen. The movement is not a political party neither is it a religion. The Gulenist Movement is believed to have a large number of sympathizers in Turkey, some estimate the number to be in millions.

[12]     In May 2016, the Turkish government declared that the Gulenist Movement was an illegal terrorist organisation and in June 2017, the Supreme Court appeal ruled that the Gulenist Movement is an armed terrorist organisation. The coup attempt of the 15th July, 2016 was attributed by the Turkish Government to members of Gulenist Movement.  A state of emergency was put in place in Turkey a few days after the coup. And this has been renewed since then. By September 2017, 21 emergency decrees had been issued and the scope of the emergency law had been broadened to include those who belong to, connect to or have contact with the Gulenist Movement.  One of the emergency decrees provided that, officials involving… involved in putting down the coup, tackling-related threats and implementing state of emergency measures would not face prosecution. Since the 2016 coup attempt, authorities have dismissed or suspended more than 45,000 police and military personnel, and more than 130,000 civil servants, dismissed one-third of the judiciary, arrested or imprisoned more than 80,000 citizens and closed more than 1,500 non-governmental organisations on terrorism-related grounds primarily for alleged ties to the movement of cleric Fethullah Gulen whom the government accuses of masterminding the coup attempt and designated by the government as the leader of the Fethullah terrorist organisation.

[13]     Exhibit 3, item 8.7 states that in the period between the unsuccessful coup in 2016 and March 2017, the Turkish government fired more than 22,000 sol… officers, soldiers, and cadets for alleged links with the Gulen Movement. In March 2017, the then Turkish Minister for National Defense announced that those fired consisted of 6,511 officers and 16,409 soldiers and military cadets. The latter group consisted of 4090 cadets at military colleges, 6,148 training centres for non-commissioned officers including privates and corporals and 6,179 at University Military Training Institutions.

[14]     In January 2019, the Turkish authorities reported that at least 58 Generals and 629 Senior Officers have been sentenced to life imprisonment for involvement in the failed coup and for links with the Gulenist Movement. In January 2019, the Turkish authority also arrested 63 people on charges of involvement with the Gulenist Movement including 46 helicopter pilots in active service. Earlier that month, more than 100 soldiers and former cadets at Military Training Institutions were arrested throughout Turkey.

[15]     The claimant filed at Exhibits 5.1 and 5.2, several recent articles about the continued persecution of former military cadets. For instance in September 2017, internet news reported that arrest warrants have been released for 69 former cadets. In November 2017, Turkish media Memurlar reported that 30 cadets were among the 240 taken into custody. In December 2017, Memurlar reported that dismissed cadets were among 62 suspects taken into custody. In March 2018, the Turkish states news agency Anadolu agency reported that former cadets were among the 19 suspects arrested in Manisa and Usak.  In March 2018, Anadolu reported that among 35 suspects apprehended for their imputed support of the Gulenist Movement were dismissed soldiers and military school students. In March 2018, The World Bulletin reported among 20 suspects arrested in the northern Kastamonu province were on duty soldiers and former cadets. In June 2018, a pro-Turkish news agency The Daily Sabah, reported that former military cadets were among the 102 suspects for which arrests warrants were issued. On July 3rd, 2018, Anadolu reported that a dismiss cadet was among the 13 suspects arrested in Eastern Turkey.

[16]     You feel being targeted by the Turkish authorities for imputed political opinion, but also for your relationship with your father who is targeted for his imputed membership into the Gulenist Movement.

[17]     The NDP or National Documentation Package for Turkey and Exhibit 3 at item 2.1 provides a basis for that fear. United States Department of State report notes that family members of targeted individuals are also at risk of persecution. It states that, using anti-terror legislation, the government targeted family members to exert pressure on wanted suspects. Government measures included cancelling the passports of family members of civil servants suspended or dismissed from state institutions as well as those who had fled authorities.

[18]     Exhibit 3 item 13.6, the United Kingdom’s Home Office reports that members of families of people who are critical of the government will be targeted.  If the police cannot find the person they are looking for, they will take another family member. This was very common during the emergency.  Families were threatened by phone and their houses were raided. A report of the Asylum Research Consultancy found at Exhibit 3 item 1.4 also notes following his visit to Turkey in September 2016, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights found that a series of measures of particular concern to the commissioner are those which target directly or are liable to affect family members of suspects in an automatic fashion.

[19]     In addition to the evictions termination of lease agreement and freezing up assets of the said suspects, which are likely to create unnecessary hardship and victimisation for family members. The commissioner notes other measures of an administrative nature such as a possibility of annulling passports of spouses of suspects who are themselves not under investigation and the unlimited access by administrative authorities to the personal data of family members of suspects.  This approach raises extremely serious concerns. The commissioner is worried that such measures will inevitably fuel the impression of guilt by association already voiced by many of their interlocutors. In the opinion of the commissioner, any measure treating family members of a suspect also as potential suspect should not exist in democratic society even during a state of emergency.

[20]     As you have established, your subjective fear and an objective basis for that fear, I find you will have established of well-founded fear of persecution.

[21]     I turn now to state protection. When making a refugee claim, the claimant must establish on a balance of probabilities that adequate state protection is not available. There is a presumption that state protection is available and the onus is on the claimant to provide and clear and convincing evidence to be part of such… such protection.

[22]     In this case, the agent of persecution is the state that is the persecution you would face should you return to Turkey as at the hand of authorities. This is supported in part by the investigation conducted by the authorities against the claimant’s father for his imputed political opinion as a supporter of the Gulenist Movement and also the evidence said that there is an arrest warrant against you for your imputed political opinion as a supporter of the Gulenist Movement. The country condition documents outlined in this decision also support the claim that the authorities are the perpetrators and persecutors of those involved or perceived to be involved in the Gulenist Movement.

[23]     Accordingly, I find that there is no state protection available for you. I have also considered whether a viable Internal Flight Alternative exists for you, the agent of persecution is the Turkish government. The evidence reviewed above confirms that oppressive treatment of those suspected of supporting the Gulen Movement is nationwide. I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution for you throughout tricky and therefore find that there is no viable Internal Flight Alternative.

[24]     In conclusion, based on the totality of the evidence, I find you to be a convention refugee because you have demonstrated a serious possibility of persecution in Turkey by virtue of your imputed political opinion and membership in a particular social group, namely your familial relationship with your father who is imputed to be a supporter of the Gulenist Movement. I accept your claim.

[25]     CLAIMANT: Thank you very much.

[26]     COUNSEL: Thank you Madam Member.

[27]     MEMBER: Welcome to Canada.

[28]     CLAIMANT: Thank you so much.

[29]     MEMBER: Thank you very much for your detailed testimony. (voice overlapping). Thank you Mr. Interpreter for coming at the last minute and doing such a good job on the interpretation.

[30]     INTERPRETER: Thank you Madam.

[31]     MEMBER:  And thank you Counsel, this was a very well documented file. And 1.           1 thank you for your work.

[32]     COUNSEL: Thank you.

[33]     MEMBER: And this concludes our hearing.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 123

Citation: 2020 RLLR 123
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 12, 2020
Panel: Jeffrey Brian Gullickson
Counsel for the Claimant(s): N/A/S.O.
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: MB9-15978
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-01106
ATIP Pages: 000039-000042

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       [XXX] is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. His passport proves his identity and that he is a citizen of Turkey.

ALLEGATIONS

[2]       He was a practicing [XXX] in Turkey and a supporter of the Hizmet movement since age

13. His family were supporters as well. His father and brother were suspended from their jobs and criminally charged in 2016 for suspected connections to a terrorist organization in relation to the Hizmet or Fehtullah Gullen movement after the failed coup of 2016. The claimant [XXX] father in his court case. The father was convicted and sentenced to more than six years imprisonment and his appeal was rejected.

[3]       The claimant who had not been formally accused of crimes in Turkey, feared being discovered or accused of being a Hizmet follower like his father. Some of the claimant’s [XXX] had already been accused and arrested.

[4]       After his father’s failed appeal, the claimant left Turkey for his safety and the claimant made a refugee claim in Canada.

[5]       After arriving in Canada, he testified in his refugee hearing the police came looking for him at his home and office and that an arrest warrant has been issued against him in Turkey.

DETERMINATION

[6]       The claimant is a “Convention refugee“. He established a serious possibility of persecution on account of his political opinion (Hizmet supporter or follower).

ANALYSIS

Credibility

[7]       The claimant was sufficiently credible as a witness regarding his allegation that he is a Hizmet follower or supporter.

[8]       There were several other areas where the claimant was not credible but those elements were not determinative and it was necessary to give the claimant the benefit of the doubt for those other elements. An example of a non-credible element that was not determinative was his late disclosure in his hearing testimony where he testified that he, two months ago, became aware that he was the subject of an arrest warrant in Turkey, though he had declared at the start of the hearing that his basis of claim (BOC) form was “complete”, where there was no mention of an arrest warrant against the claimant in his BOC and where his BOC clearly instructs him to make an update of his BOC if there is new information to submit in his hearing.

[9]       What I retained as credible was that the claimant probably supported the Hizmet movement, as his father and brother did and for which his father received a lengthy prison sentence.

[10] The claimant submitted probative evidence in support of his claim. He submitted court documents showing the charges against his father, where the claimant was the [XXX], and against his brother and a Turkish government decree naming his father as an accused in association with a terrorist organization and association with FETO (Gullen movement) and its members (Document #4).

[11]     Having considered all of the evidence, I conclude that the claimant is not the subject of an arrest warrant in Turkey, he was not accused of connections to the Gullen movement, but that his father was and the claimant himself was forced to hide his support for the Gullen or Hizmet movement in whatever degree he supported Hizmet so not to be accused or arrested in Turkey.

[12]     The National Documentation Packages for Turkey (NDP), dated 29 March 2019, shows that the current government in Turkey has forcefully repressed perceived political opponents such as the Gullen movement, including abuse and detention of their friends or family members (NDP, tabs 1.7 and 4.6). The NDP shows that Turkish authorities are reported to have committed abuses and serious mistreatment of detainees (NDP, tabs 1.7, 10.1 and 10.2). Political dissidents have been severely dealt with by the governing power in Turkey (NDP, tabs 4.5 and 13.1).

State Protection

[13]     There is clear and convincing evidence before me that the state is unable or unwilling to provide the claimant with adequate protection, for the reasons stated above.

Internal Flight Alternative

[14]     On the evidence before me, I find that there is a serious possibility of persecution throughout Turkey for the claimant, for the reasons stated above.

CONCLUSION

[15]     The claimant is a “Convention refugee“.

[16]     I accept his claim.

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 116

Citation: 2020 RLLR 116
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: March 9, 2020
Panel: Janko Predovic
Counsel for the Claimant(s):
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: VB9-05301
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000208-000212

— DECISION

[1]       PRESIDING MEMBER: This is the decision of the Refugee Protection, RPD, in the claim of [XXX] a citizen of Turkey who seeks refugee protection pursuant to s. 96 and s. 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or IRPA.

[2]       Sir, you allege that you have been involved with the Gulen or Hizmet movement for several years and since that time you have resided in Hizmet dormitories, learned at Hizmet educational institutions, banked at Hizmet affiliated financial institutions, consumed Hizmet media and attended Hizmet community gatherings and events.

[3]       After the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, the Hizmet movement was blamed and a crackdown occurred. You heard of Hizmet colleagues having been detained by Turkish government authorities and you have been informed that police have attended your former home numerous times in search of you personally commencing in 2017.

[4]       In 2014, you moved to Cyprus on a student permit and you resided there until 2018. At that point, you travelled to the United States and you met with the leader of the Hizmet movement Mr. Fethullah Gulen himself.

[5]       You fear that if you return to Turkey you will be persecuted on account of your Hizmet affiliation.

[6]       My determination, sir, is that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the IRPA and your claim is, therefore, accepted.

[7]       The reasons for that determination follow now:

[8]       Your identity and your status as a national of Turkey have been established by the copy of your Turkish passport on file and I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that you are a citizen of Turkey and no other country.

[9]       Though you did spend some time in Cyprus, I’m satisfied on a balance of probabilities that you were there on temporary permits only with no citizen like status. First, as a student and then as a teacher. This is sufficiently corroborated in my view by the copy of your student permit which is found at Exhibit number 5.

[10]     Your fear of persecution in Turkey is by reason of affiliation with the Gulen or Hizmet movement which started decades ago as a religious movement in Turkey. Today, it’s a little bit wider than that it bridges gaps between religion, politics and charitable work. The movement operates a network of schools, businesses, media outlets, charities, private hospitals and health clinics and so on. And Turkish President Erdogan has closed schools and media outlets in Turkey associated with the movement and he has categized it as a terrorist organization.

[11]     Based on the nature of the Hizmet movement as it straddles these political and religious lines, I conclude that there is a nexus between your allegations of persecution and the Convention grounds of religion as well as political opinion. Accordingly, I will assess your claim for protection under s. 96 of the IRPA.

[12]     I’ll touch briefly on your credibility now. In refugee determination cases there is a presumption that claimants and their allegations are truthful and I have identified no material inconsistencies or contradictions between your basis of claim and the other evidence before me, and your narrative does correspond to the objective evidence about conditions in Turkey for those belonging to or being associated with the Gulen movement.

[13]     You have also provided a copy of a summons corroborating the fact that police in Turkey have sought you out, and you have provided a photo of yourself with Mr. Gulen himself taken when you visited him in the United States where he resides in exile.

[14]     Ultimately, I have no reason to doubt the central element of your claim for protection, namely that you belong to the Hizmet Movement. Having accepted this, I also accept that you subjectively fear persecution in Turkey.

[15]     And I’ll note that I take no negative inference from your failure to claim protection in the United States, as you’ve indicated that was in part due to the present administrations animus to refugee claimants, and I find that to be a reasonable explanation. I turn now to the objective evidence regarding the treatment of Gulen followers in Turkey, and I’ll rely largely on Item 4.6 of the most recent national documentation package for that country. This is an IRB research and information report dated January 6, 2020, so it’s actually quite recent.

[16]     Now, as I’ve already referenced the Gulen movement is active around the world it operates schools, businesses, media outlets and charities. And Gulen followers have been continually targeted by the Turkish government following the 2016 failed coup attempt. Though the government has labelled that movement as a terrorist organization effectively declaring war on it. Many businesses have since closed due to their links with the Gulen movement and those suspected of being Gulen followers have been directly targeted resulting in many many serious violations of human rights on a systemic basis.

[17]     I’ll quote two prominent leaders in the Turkish government to give you an idea. Turkish President Erdogan is reported to have said in 2018 and I quote:

We’re purging every Gulenist in the army in the police and in state institutions, and we will continue cleansing these organizations of them because we will eradicate this cancer from the body of this country and the state. They will not enjoy the right to life. Our fight against them will continue until the end. We won’t leave them merely wounded.

[18]     The Turkish Economy Minister said something along the same lines in 2016 and I quote:

We will put those responsible for the coup, referring of course to the Gulen Movement members, into such holes for punishment that they won’t even — that they won’t even be able to see the sun of God as long as they breathe. They will not see the light of day. They will not hear a human voice. They will beg for death saying just kills us.

[19]     Authorities have taken these comments to heart and have vigorously acted on them. According to one report, a purge of Hizmet members within the state apparatus has resulted in the dismissal, detainment and arrest of tens of thousands. One source sites a 150,000 individuals dismissed, 500,000 investigated, 100,000 arrested, 6,000 academics discharged, 4,500 judges and prosecutors dismissed and 300 journalists arrested. Dismissals also include the cancellation of passports preventing people from leaving the country and escaping persecution.

[20]     The government has, through 2019, continued to detain and arrest even merely suspected Hizmet sympathizers. The Guardian newspaper reports that in February 2019 the government-issued arrest warrants for a further 1,100 people with suspected connections to the Gulenist movement.

[21]     Similarly, Reuters indicates that the ordering of the arrest of 1,100 people is one of the government’s largest operations against alleged supporters of the Gulen Movement.

[22]     Al Jazeera has stated that more than 760 people were detained in operations all across Turkey. Although 122 of those were later freed under judicial supervision.

[23]     Another source indicates that evidence is not necessary to keep someone in prison for months or years when they are suspected Gulenists, and another says the parallel is compounded a compromised justice system in which judges do not release suspects for being — for fear of being labelled Gulenists themselves.

[24]     It’s further reported that Hizmet detainees have faced different forms of torture and ill-treatment by the police and other government forces. Human Rights Watch indicates that cases of abductions which likely amount to enforced disappearances are — are, pardon me let me rephrase that. Human Rights Watch reports that there are cases of abductions which likely amount to enforced disappearances by state authorities. Abductions or kidnappings reportedly serve as part of the persecution launched by the Turkish president and his government primarily against participants of the Gulen movement.

[25]     Further, it is reported that the Turkish government targets people using guilt by association. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has observed such a pattern of application of punitive measures targeting not just primary “suspects” such as civil servants or human rights activists, but also people associated with them particularly family members including children, siblings, parents and other relatives as well as friends, neighbours, work associates or even social media contacts that they do not necessarily know. This, of course, violates principles of individual responsibility, fairness and legal certainty.

[26]     Based on the foregoing objective evidence and my finding that, sir, you are indeed a Hizmet or Gulen follower, I find that you have established with sufficient credible and reliable evidence that you face a serious possibility of persecution in Turkey.

[27]     I’ve considered whether state protection or an internal flight alternative is available to you, however, as the state is the agent of persecution it would not be reasonable for you to seek state protection in Turkey nor would it be forthcoming if you were to do so. More likely you would be handing yourself over for persecution.

[28]     For similar reasons an internal flight alternative is not available. The persecution of Gulen followers occurs uniformly throughout Turkey and the government has declared that the movement is a terrorist organization. As Gulen followers, suspected followers and even family members of followers are targeted uniformly throughout the country there is nowhere you could go in the country where you would be free from a serious possibility of persecution.

[29]     Ultimately my conclusion, sir, is that you are a Convention refugee and I accept your claim under s. 96 of the IRPA.

— DECISION CONCLUDED

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 114

Citation: 2020 RLLR 114
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 19, 2020
Panel: Christine Medycky
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Aleksandar Jeremic
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-35318
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00945
ATIP Pages: 000192-000202

REASONS FOR DECISION

INTRODUCTION

[1]       [XXX], a citizen of Turkey, is claiming refugee protection pursuant to sections 96(1) and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Action.[1]

[2]       As this claim is based on sexual orientation, I have taken into consideration at the hearing and in rendering my decision, the Chairperson’s Guideline 9: Proceedings Before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression.[2]

[3]       The purpose of the Guideline is to help decision-makers better understand cases involving sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) and the harm individuals may face due to their non-conformity with socially accepted SOGIE norms. It addresses a number of issues, including the unique challenges individuals with diverse SOGIE face in establishing their SOGIE, and in presenting their refugee claims, the danger of stereotyping and inappropriate assumptions, as well as, what to consider when assessing credibility and evidence.

DETERMINATION

[4]       Having considered the totality of the evidence, I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee for the following reasons.

ALLEGATIONS

[5]       The details of the allegations are fully set out in the claimant’s Basis of Claim Form (BOC).[3] To summarize, the claimant alleges a fear of persecution at the hands of his family, society at large and the state authorities in Turkey, due to his sexual orientation as a gay person.

ANALYSIS

Identity

[6]       The claimant’s personal and national identities were established, on a balance of probabilities, by his Turkish passport, certified true copy of which was provided by the Minister.[4]

Nexus

[7]       I find that there is a connection between the persecution that the claimant fears and the Convention ground of membership in a particular social group, namely that of gay men in Turkey.

[8]       I find the claimant to be a credible witness. His testimony was straight-forward, detailed and frank. The claimant did not embellish. There were no discrepancies, contradictions, or omissions in the claimant’s oral and documentary evidence, that went to the core of the claim. Therefore, on a balance of probabilities, I accept that the claimant has established he is a gay man.

Background and self-identification

[9]       The claimant recounted that he comes from a family that is middle class and religious. His father is the head of the family, his mother is a housewife. The claimant has two older sisters whose marriages were arranged. The claimant self-identifies as a gay man. When asked what this term means to him, he stated that the meaning is different in Canada than in Turkey. In Turkey, he said it is synonymous to being “in prison” because there you cannot express your homosexuality openly, you must hide it and live your life “behind the scene” because it is unsafe to do so in public.

[10]     He testified that he started to feel different around the age of 9 or 10 but did not understand why at the time. When he asked his mother what the homosexual meant, a word he had heard on the television, she replied that he did not need to know and not to ask her such things. In his community, people were warned to keep their children away from homosexuals because they have no morals, are ill, and spread disease.

First experiences

[11]     The claimant was able to describe his first romantic encounters with the same sex. He was particularly affected by his experience with a high school student from another city. He provided details on how they met, what attracted him to the student, and where their ‘encounter’ took place. He was also able to express his emotions when the student’s cousin walked in on them, and describe the injuries he suffered as a result of the ensuing scuffle and how it explained them to his parents when he arrived back home. The claimant stated that after this incident he closed his Facebook account and changed his SIM card for his mobile to prevent from his friend’s cousin from finding him.

[12]     I asked the claimant if he had ever disclosed to anyone in Turkey that he was gay, and he replied that he confided his secret to a close high school friend, but only after she had divulged to him that she was a lesbian. This was confirmed in a letter from the said friend. Otherwise, he concealed his sexual orientation. I questioned him why he had not opened up to his more liberal aunt who lived in a different city than his parents, and he replied that although she was more liberal, she was still homophobic. He did not trust her to keep his secret and feared the potential repercussions he would suffer at the hands of his family, especially his father, if she told them he was gay.

[13]     The claimant testified that he some sexual relations with men during his university days, however he said they were not serious or long-term relationships.

Incident of abuse

[14]     The claimant stated that on two occasions he was verbally and/or physically assaulted due to his sexual orientation. The first occurred at an eatery in Istanbul where he and his lesbian friend were accosted by men shouting, “People should be burned alive. Your women look like men and your men look like women. Because of you people the world is going to end soon.” Other patrons joined in. The owner sensing trouble asked them to leave. Angered by what happened, his friend called the police. The police came, but did nothing, they just told them to go to another café. A few months later his lesbian friend was violently attacked in Istanbul and required hospitalization. The friend confirmed what happened at the eatery and the attack on her in a letter submitted into evidence.[5]

Long-term relationship

[15]     The claimant engaged in a long-term relationship with a man in Istanbul. The claimant moved to Canada with this man to pursue English language studies. After the relationship broke down, the man threatened to reveal the claimant’s sexual orientation to his family.

Confrontation with father

[16]     The claimant testified that his father called him on [XXX] 2019. He wanted to know where his son was. When the claimant told him he was in Canada, the father became angry and said, “you go to Canada and sleep with men?” He had heard about his sones “bad habits” from his friend and had seen photos. The claimant’s father told him the that he would purchase a ticket for him to return to Turkey and that once he was back in the village “we will solve your problems there”.

[17]     The claimant testified that his father said he would bury him alive and once he knew his son had disappeared, he would kill himself because his son had dishonoured him, and he could not face people. The claimant said that his father was screaming and swearing at him on the telephone and that he hung up on him and has not spoken to him since. He changed his telephone number so his father could not reach him. He does however communicate with his eldest sister, with whom he is the closest, once a month to get updates on the situation at home, but that she deletes his number after each call. The claimant filed a claim in Canada for refugee protection on [XXX] 2019.[6]

[18]     As to his involvement in the LGBT community in Canada, the claimant said he had registered with an LGBT NGO for a training but did completed it due to the COVID pandemic.

[19]     I accept on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has a subjective fear of persecution.

Objective Basis

[20]     Furthermore, I find on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant’s subjective fear has an objective basis.

Worsening situation

[21]     According to the National Documentation Package and country conditions documentation submitted by counsel, homosexuality has been decriminalized in Turkey since 1858 and for many years the LGBTI community enjoyed much freedom. However, the situation has worsened since the 70s when a succession of conservative governments came into power and systemically targeted the LGBTI community with repressive measures.[7]

[22]     Today, the situation of sexual minorities lags behind the standards of the European Union and the United Nations. Consequently, LGBT people in Turkey face discrimination, violence – both physical and emotional, stigmatization and marginalization.[8]

Freedom of assembly

[23]     Following an attempted coup on 15 July 2016, the Turkish Government declared a state of emergency. During this period, human rights and fundamental freedoms were severely restricted or suspended. A ban was imposed on public assemblies and activities of various civil society organizations.

[24]     In November 2017, Ankara’s governor imposed an indefinite ban on events organized by LGBTI associations because they risked “inciting hatred and enmity” and therefore the ban was needed to “prevent crimes being committed”, “protect public health and morality” and “protect other people’s rights and freedoms.” Pride events are also banned in Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Mersin. The NGOs Kos GL and Pink Life unsuccessfully challenged the ban in local administrative courts. Appeals to regional administrative court and to the Constitutional Court are pending. The ban violates Turkey’s national and International obligations to respect and protect rights to equality before the law and freedom of peaceful expression and association.

[25]     The impact of the ban is that it stigmatizes and marginalizes LGBTI people and makes them very vulnerable to attacks. LGBTI people are cast as immoral and criminals. As a result of this, many experienced LGBTI activists have sought asylum abroad.[9]

Perception and Attitude of Turkish Society

[26]     Although founded as a secular state, traditional Islamic values are deep-rooted in Turkey’s government and society. Turkish society is patriarchal and gender roles are clearly defined. While homosexuality is not banned in Turkey, it is largely viewed as immoral and unnatural behaviour. A global study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2013 reports that acceptance of homosexuality in Turkey remains at a mere 9 percent.

[27]     The conservative AKP government considers the family to be the primary social institution and sees its values and traditions as essential to nation building and maintaining peace. Modem values are thus perceived as a threat to the disintegration of traditional social values. A majority of politicians do not support the LGBTI cause because this does not align with the values and morals of Turkish society. The Minister for Women and Family Affairs has publicly referred to homosexuality as “a biological disturbance” or ”disease and biological disorder in need of treatment”.[10]

[28]     Furthermore, articles submitted by the claimant report that President Erdogan is tapping into strong nationalist and religious groups to bolster the sagging popularity of the AKP. In June 2019, Ali Erbas, who leads the Religious Affairs Directorate in Turkey, preached in a televised sermon on the coronavirus outbreak condemning homosexuality because it brings illness and decay. The head of the Turkish Red Crescent made a homophobic tweet in July of this year, which was sharply rebuked by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.[11]

Honour Killings

[29]     So adverse is Turkish society to sexual minorities that many LGBTI individuals are killed by members of their own family for having ‘brought shame ‘to the family. Two well publicized cases of “honour killing” are that of 18-year old Ahmet Yildiz killed by his father in 2008, and 17-year old Rosen Cicek murdered in 2012 by his father and two uncles. LGBT advocacy groups closely followed the two trials and sought to become intervening parties in the proceedings. The courts rejected their requests. Honour killings are hard to document in Turkey because they are often covered up by families and police avoid investigating them.[12]

Discrimination

[30]     Turkey does not have an anti-discrimination law perse, but anti-discrimination clauses are found in the Turkish constitution as well as various criminal, administrative and civil laws. The protected grounds explicitly enumerated differ from each other and are non-exhaustive.

[31]     Sexual orientation and gender identity are not listed among the protected grounds in the Turkish Constitution or other laws for example (the Penal Code, Labour Law, Basic Law on National Education, Law on Civil Servants, Civil Code, Law on Social Services, Regulation on Minimum Wages). Therefore, LGBTI persons’ rights are neither guaranteed, nor specifically protected under Turkish law. This critical gap in the law, which allows the courts to make rulings to the disadvantage of LGBTI persons.

[32]     The Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (HREIT) is mandated to investigate, ex-officio or upon applications made, all allegations of discrimination and to render decisions on such cases. Both the European Commission and the UN Human Rights Committee have expressed concerns about the independence of the HREIT.

[33]     In 2019, the HREIT rejected complaints by trans persons of discrimination in accessing accommodations and services. A study by Mustafa Ozturk found that most LGBTI hide their sexual orientation in the workplace for fear of discrimination and those who do ‘come out’ experience severe discrimination or are terminated.

[34]     The European Commission has reported cases where police officers, teachers, bank personnel, and city workers that have lost their jobs due to their sexual orientation.[13]

Hate Crimes

[35]     Hates crimes target people for who they are or are perceived to be. Although Turkey does have a law against hate crimes (Article 22 of the Turkish Penal Code), it does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as one of the protected grounds.

[36]     The OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) reported that Turkey’s law enforcement agencies do not record the bias motivations of hate crimes and that violations of human rights of LGBTI persons, gender-based violence, hate speech and crimes remain a matter of serious concern. Furthermore, the mainstream media under reports such crimes.

[37]     The lack of explicit legal protection for LGBTI persons and persistent discrimination against them amounts to a tacit endorsement of discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons. The documentary evidence shows that between 2010 and 2014, 41 murders of LGBTI personas were motivated by hate. Hate-crimes are not thoroughly and promptly investigated and often under punished in Turkey.[14]

[38]     Courts frequently reduce sentences for hate crimes against LGBTI persons by applying Article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code (“Any person who commits an offence in a state of anger or severe distress caused by an unjust act shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of eighteen to twenty four years where the offence committed requires a penalty of aggravated life imprisonment and to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of twelve to eighteen years where the offence committed requires a penalty of life imprisonment.) The Penal Code does not define what an unjust act is.[15]

[39]     Having considered all of the evidence, I find on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant’s fear of persecution is well-founded. He would not be able to live openly as a homosexual in Turkey where he faces a serious possibility of persecution, and it is unreasonable to expect him to conceal his sexual identity or expression, in order to live free of persecution.

State Protection

[40]     As one of the agents of persecution is the Turkish state, adequate state protection is not available to the claimant.

Internal Flight Alternative

[41]     Neither does the claimant have a viable internal flight alternative. Turkey is in control of all of its territories and consequently there is no place he can go in the country that is safe.

[42]     Considering the totality of the evidence before me, I find that the claimant, [XXX], faces a serious possibility of persecution at the hands of his family, society at large and the state authorities, due to his sexual orientation as a gay person, if he returned to Turkey.

CONCLUSION

[43]     To conclude, I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee and therefore his claim for asylum is accepted.


[1] Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c.27, as amended, sections 96 and 97(1)

[2] Chairperson’s Guideline 9 of the Refugee Protection Division: Guideline issued by the Chairperson pursuant to paragraph 159(1)(h) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression. Effective date: May 1, 2017

[3] Exhibit 2

[4] Exhibit 1

[5] Exhibit 4

[6] Exhibit 2

[7] Exhibit 3, s.6.2; Exhibit 5

[8] Exhibit 3, s..6.1; Exhibit 5

[9] Exhibit 3, s..6.1-4; Exhibit 5 

[10] Exhibit 3, s..6.3; Exhibit 5

[11] Exhibit 5

[12] Exhibit 3, s.6.3

[13] Exhibit 3, s.6.3; Exhibit 5

[14] Exhibit 3, s.1.14, 2.1, 6.2

[15] Ibid

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 79

Citation: 2020 RLLR 79
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 10, 2020
Panel: D. Simonian
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Esther Lexchin
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-16173
Associated RPD Number(s):
ATIP Number: A-2021-00800
ATIP Pages: 000128-000131

DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: I have considered your testimony and the other evidence before me and I’m ready to render my decision orally. You will receive an unedited copy of this decision in the mail. Your counsel will also get a copy. This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection made by [XXX], file number TB9-16173. You alleged that you are a citizen of Turkey and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[2]       I find that you are a Convention refugee because you have established that you face a serious possibility of persecution in Turkey due to your Kurdish ethnicity and your pro-Kurdish political activity as a supporter of the People’s Democratic Party here and after HDP. I accept your claim.

[3]       The details of your claim are set out in your Basis of Claim form dated October 11th, 2018, found at Exhibit 2 and in your amended Basis of Claim form narratives, found at Exhibits 2.1 and 8.

[4]       In summary, you alleged that you are Kurdish, that you support the HDP and that you are involved in activities critical of the current Turkish government. You fear the Turkish government, Turkish Nationalists as well as certain anti-Kurdish bureaucrats who have infiltrated the military, education and health care sectors. You alleged that you have participated in a number of protests, that you helped mobilize students and other fellow citizens and that you have been politically outspoken on social media. You also allege that you have been arbitrarily detained by police on a number of occasions and that you sustained a permanent injury to your hand as a result of being beaten by police.

[5]       With respect to nexus, I find there is a link between what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds, specifically, political opinion. I have therefore assessed your refugee claim under Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. You allege that you are a citizen of Turkey and that you are not a citizen or permanent resident of any other country. You provided your genuine Turkish passport and Turkish identity card to CBSA, copies of which are found at Exhibit 1. Based on that evidence, I find that you have established your identity as required under Section 106 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and rule 11 of the Refugee Protection Division rules. I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that you are who you say you are.

[6]       The determinative issue in this claim is credibility. For the reasons I will outline shortly, I find you to be credible on a balance of probabilities. You provided evidence, both in your personal documents and in your testimony that you are Kurdish and that you have engaged in anti-government activities. In your Basis of Claim form and in your testimony, you explained your ethnic background and your experience growing up as a Kurdish person in Turkey. You further explained your involvement in the HDP, including how their goals align with your political ideology. You also explained your role in certain protests, how you were detained on several occasions and how you were attacked by police following a fight that broke out at your University.

[7]       As part of the exhz-, as part of Exhibits 5 and 8, you provided corroborating evidence, including, the record of your complaints statements, a letter from your University dormmate, photos of you participating in protests, a photo of you after you were injured by police, a Facebook post related to a protest that you attended, a text message exchange with [XXX], the [XXX], a letter from the Kurdish community centre in Canada and YouTube clips of you participating in a protest in [XXX]. Your personal documents were consistent in content and chronology with the account you gave in your Basis of Claim form and in your testimony regarding the circumstances that caused you to fear persecution in Turkey as a politically active Kurd.

[8]       I therefore find on a balance of probabilities that your documents are credible and trustworthy. Your testimony was straight-forward and responsive to my questions. There were no material inconsistencies or contradictions, you spoke passionately about your beliefs, your nation and your political goals. You provided many details with spontaneity and without embellishment. I therefore accept what you allege in your testimony and in your Basis of Claim form and I find on a balance of probabilities that you have established your profile as a politically active Kurd.

[9]       I find there is an objective basis for your fear of persecution in Turkey. In other words, the objective evidence is consistent with your allegation that because of your ethnicity and your political activism, you would face a serious risk of persecution in Turkey. In reaching my conclusion, I consider the documents in the National Documentation Package for Turkey, dated March 29, 2019, the index of which is found at Exhibit 3. I also consider the documents that counsel submitted on your behalf which are at Exhibit 6 and 7. In particular, the NDP states that since the 2016 attempted coup d’état, the situation for Kurds in Turkey has worsened.

[10]     NDP Item 13.1 indicates that “The situation has worsened in Turkey for Kurds”. Under the state of emergency, the executive orders make it easy to arrest Kurds and put them in jail without due process. The prosecutors can keep arrested people up to a month without a lawyer. Furthermore, the current permissive political environment increased tolerance against Kurds in the country. The executive orders targeted Kurds, hundreds of academics, public employees were fired from their works. Some of them have nothing to do with the HDP. As for society, the rise of anti-Kurdish attitudes is on the rise. The government again adopted a strong nationalist conservative discourse which alienated secular political opposition. Those who speak the Kurdish language are not tolerated and deemed as potential terrorists in Turkey. Communal violence against her-, Kurds is on the rise after the coup attempt but mainstream media are also hesitant to make news about these incidents”.

[11]     Under the guise of the emergency decrees and anti-terrorism laws, the Turkish government disproportionately subjects Kurds and those critical of the government to various human rights violations. While Turkey is no longer under a state of emergency, the emergency decrees granting abusive powers remain in force. Despite the public declaration of a repeal of the state of emergency, there is no change in the treatment of Kurds and those persons who are or perceived to be critical of the government. Based on the objective country documentary evidence, I find on a balance of probabilities that your fear of persecution is well-founded.

[12]     There is a presumption that States are capable of protecting their citizens, however, a claimant can rebut the presumption of state protection and demonstrate that they would not receive such protection by providing clear and convincing evidence of the unwillingness or inability of the State to protect them. You testified that rather than protecting you, Turkish police forces were often the source of violence, attacks and oppression. Based on your personal circumstances as well as the objective country documentation, I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection. In other words, adequate state protection would not be available to you if you were to seek it in Turkey.

[13]     In considering whether an internal flight alternative exists for you, I find that you face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Turkey. The objective documentary evidence indicates that the government and authorities operate similarly throughout the country. In other words, there is nowhere that you could live safely in Turkey. I therefore find that there is no internal flight available to you in that country.

[14]     In conclusion, after assessing all of the evidence, I find that you would face a serious possibility of persecution pursuant to Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act should you return to Turkey. Accordingly, I find that you are a Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 40

Citation: 2020 RLLR 40
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: February 25, 2020
Panel: J. Kim
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Aleksandar Jeremic
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB8-27767
Associated RPD Number: TB8-27831
ATIP Number: A-2021-00655
ATIP Pages: 000071-000075


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: Okay, this is a decision for the following claimant’s [XXX] File number TB8-27767. I’ve considered your testimony and other evidence in the case and I’m ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       You are claiming to be citizens of Turkey and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       I find that you are Convention refugees for the following reasons.

[4]       You allege the following; that you are citizens of Turkey and are Alevi’s and that if you were to return you will face persecution due to your active involvement with HTP and CHP. You allege that there is no state protection for you or an internal flight alternative.

[5]       You allege that you were detained multiple times by the police and that even after you left Turkey people who knew you were being asked about you by the police when they themselves were detained.

[6]       Your personal identity as citizens of Turkey has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents including your passports and your identity as Alevi has been established by your testimony and the supporting documents including a support letter from your father, [XXX] and a letter from Canadian Alevi Culture Centre.

[7]       I find that on a balance of probabilities that your personal and religious identities have been established.

[8]       I find that there is a link between what you fear and one of the five convention grounds specifically political opinion. I therefore assessed your claims under Section 96.

[9]       In terms of your general credibility I have found you to be credible witnesses and I therefore believe what you have alleged in your oral testimony and in your basis of claim forms. Your testimony was straightforward and was in keeping with your basis of claim form and there are no significant inconsistencies or omissions that went to the heart of the claim.

[10]     I therefore find the following to be credible; that you are people who face persecution due to your involvement with the oppositional parties, namely HTP and CHP, at the hands of the state authorities.

[11]     Your oral testimony today included details regarding your involvement with HTP and CHP and the incidents you experienced with the police. You testified how you became involved with both parties and the roles and responsibilities you had.

[12]     You also describe the number of protests and rallies you attended as well as the work you did helping with referendum and election campaigns which lead to a house raid where your parent’s house was raided by the police and all of your sisters including yourself was taken into the police station and was interrogated.

[13]     You testified prior to the house raid that you experienced violent encounters with the police and were detained multiple times after protests. You also testified that you received phone calls that threatened you to stop your political engagements.

[14]     Your sister the associate claimant also testified regarding her involvement in political parties and rallies and the subsequent detainment and the house raid she also experienced.

[15]     You also provided documents in support of your testimony that you have been active members and supporters of HTP and CHP and that you have been experiencing threats and risk from the police and these documents include letters of support from your friend, father and sister, photographs of the associate claimant as she was campaigning for the referendum and a letter from Canadian centre for victims of torture.

[16]     You also submitted social media posts that were critical towards the government, the letter from your sister and your friend who was detained and interrogated after you left Turkey which describes how police were still looking for you and harassing your family members and friends to get information about you.

[17]     Your testimony and the supporting documentation all establish that you have been actively involved in the HTP and CHP and therefore have been targeted by the state authorities.

[18]     The objective documentation supports your allegations that individuals in your circumstance face persecution at the hands of state authorities and society at large.

[19]     According to the national documentation package Item 1.6, 2.1, 2.3, 13.1 and 13.3 the persecution that the HTP supporters and those who voice criticism against the government face, they face discrimination and violence.

[20]     National documentation package Item 13.1 speaks to it by stating that the anti Kurdish sentiment is high in Turkey and permissive political environment turns this sentiment into violence in some cases.

[21]     Item 13.3 describes that the anti terrorism legislation led members of the Kurdish community to be vulnerable to violence and that there are significant restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression and association as well as (inaudible), arrest and detention and persecution.

[22]     In your case it’s not that the state authorities identify you as Kurdish people but as those who are active in supporting HTP and their goals.

[23]     Item 2.3 describes the correlation between the heightened conflicts between the resurgence and how the Turkish government has been using these conflicts to justify a crackdown on Kurdish political parties, media outlets and civil society organizations.

[24]     NDP Item 1.6 and 2.3 also describe how the different laws such as anti terror and defamation laws have been used to stop political opponents as well as ordinary citizens from voicing criticism by filing criminal charges against and persecuting a wide range of individuals.

[25]     According to the national documentation package Item 2.1 during the year of 2018 the government opened investigations into thousands of individuals including minors for insulting the president and the detainees charged against anti terror laws had no substantial link to terrorism and that they were detained to silence critical voices or weaken political opposition to the ruling AKP particularly the HTP members and officials.

[26]     Specifically Item NDP Item 11.3 and 11.4 describe the lack of freedom of speech on the internet and how the government recently started to crackdown on those who post, posted critical things against the government through criminal investigation and persecutions which have affected a wide range of people from journalists and human rights activists to high school and university students and construction workers.

[27]     I therefore find that you have a well founded fear of persecution. I find that you have rebutted the presumption of state protection because the state is the agent of persecution in this case and it would be unreasonable for you to seek state protection in this case.

[28]     According to the national documentation package Item 2.1 the government continues to take limited steps to investigate, prosecute and punish members of the security forces and other officials accused of human rights abuses and that impunity for such abuses remained a problem.

[29]     In Item 2.3 it describes that the issues of corruption remains a major problem in Turkey.

[30]     Based on your personal circumstances as well as the objective country documentation l find that the adequate state protection will not be available to you as the state will be unwilling to protect you in Turkey.

[31]     As you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and since the country documentation indicates that the situation for individuals in circumstances such as yours is the same throughout the country, I find that you do not have a viable internal flight alternative.

[32]     Based on the totality of evidence I find that you have established that there is a serious possibility of persecution on the convention ground namely the political opinion. I therefore find that you are Convention refugees and I accept your claims.

[33]     Thank you.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 24

Citation: 2020 RLLR 24
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 27, 2020
Panel: K. Khamsi
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amedeo Clivia (Clivea Law)
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-12901
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000143-0000145


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection made by [XXX]. So you claim to be a citizen of Turkey and you are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Your allegation are detailed in your-, in the narrative portion of your Basis of Claim form but to summarize, you fear persecution in Turkey due to your Kurdish ethnicity and your Alevi faith and also your support of the HDP. You mentioned that you have been discriminated and bullied because of your Kurdish ethnicity and also because of your religion.

[2]       You were arrested twice by the police in-, in Turkey. You were also involved with the HDP and you have relatives who were arrested and held in custody because of their involvement with the HDP. So, now you are afraid to return to Turkey and be discriminated because of your-, of your faith and also because of you are a supporter of the HDP and you are afraid that if you become involved in politics and you are arrested by the police, they find out that-, about your record and you would be in much more trouble. You also testified that you were involved in social media and that you have been criticizing the government and all that maybe held against you.

[3]       So, determination. I find that you are a Convention refugee based on your ethnicity and your political opinion.

[4]       Now, the identified issues are identity and credibility, your ethnicity. So, with respect to your personal identity, I find that you are a citizen of Turkey based on your testimony and documents that you have provided, including your passports.

[5]       With respect to your ethnicity and religious identity, I find on a balance of probabilities that you are of Turkish descent and Alevi faith. You needed prompting, your testimony was not that forthcoming when you were asked about your religion but you also provided some evidence with regarding the Alevi Cultural Centre here and a letter from the Kurdish Association. Too, you also explained that you did not speak Kurdish because your parents wanted to protect you, however, it’ s not something that you were hiding and that led to-, to-, to-, to travel as you have alleged in-, in your story.

[6]       Now with the regard to credibility, I find that your oral testimony did not contradict your written evidence. You needed prompting but there was no contradiction between your oral and written evidence. You were able to explain all the questions that I asked you. You have also provided evidence to support all your allegations. You have provided as I said, a letter from the Alevi Cultural Centre and from the Kurdish-, Toronto Kurdish Centre. You have provided evidence from your social media. I have a letter from your sister who corroborated your-, your story with regard to your arrest in [XXX] 2018.

[7]       I have reviewed also all country conditions documents that we provided in the NDP and by your counsel and the documentary evidence supports your allegations were always targeted and the information that we have in the NDP. They confirm that Kurds were already-, in Turkey, however, the situation has worsened since the-, the 2016 attempted coup and lots of people are-, were arrested in Turkey just because of-, of their background. Who-, so when you are Kurd and Alevi, it makes things worse and we have lots of evidence with regard to discrimination, with regards to Alevi.

[8]       Now, with regard to your political activities. The evidence indicates that if you are perceived to be a member or-, or of any political group, any opposition group sorry, in-, in Turkey, you may be subjected to human right violations and in-, in Turkey, those who are viewed as anti-government are subjected to lots of mistreatment. Specifically, Kurdish and Alevi’s, they are viewed as a threat to the government and as sometimes associated with the-, sorry, I’m trying to find the-, sometimes they can viewed-, be viewed as-, as associated to terrorist activities.

[9]       So, I find that your profile as a Kurdish and Alevi and your political activities may put you at risk of detention and torture at the hand of the government if you were to turn-, to return to Turkey, based on the objective evidence that we have on file. There were other issues that I did not touch, for example, delay in claiming and you went back to Turkey as well, it could have been considered as re-availment, however, you explained in your narrative and that’s I was-, the reason why that happened and you provided evidence with-, with regard to your delay. A letter from your friends who I did not held that against you.

[10]     Now I looked at state protection and given that the State is the agent of persecution, I find that, there is no state protection for you in Turkey and for the same reasons, I find that there is no internal flight alternative available to you in Turkey.

[11]     And to conclude, I find that you are Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2020 RLLR 16

Citation: 2020 RLLR 16
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: January 6, 2020
Panel: Jiyoung Kim
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Ashley Erin Fisch
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB8-24280
ATIP Number: A-2021-00540
ATIP Pages: 000107-0000110


DECISION

[1]       MEMBER: This is a decision for the claimant [XXX], file number TB8-24280. I have considered your testimony and other evidence in the case and I’m ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       You are claiming to be a citizen of Turkey and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Section 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       I find that you are a Convention refugee for the following reasons.

[4]       For making this decision and in formulating questions for the hearing, I considered Chairperson’s Guideline 9 with regard to proceedings before the Immigration and Refuge-, Immigration and Refugee Board involving claims of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

[5]       You alleged the following. That you are a citizen of Turkey and that if you were to return, you will face persecution as a member in a particular social group which is your gender identity and sexual orientation. You alleged that there is no stat-, state protection for you or an internal flight alternative.

[6]       Your personal identity as a citizen of Turkey has been established by your oral testimony and supporting documents, including your passport and the national identification card. I find that, on the balance of probabilities, that identity and country of reference have been established.

[7]       I find that there is a link between your-, what you fear and one of the five Convention grounds, specifically particular social group, namely your gender identity. Therefore, I assessed your claim under Section 96.

[8]       In terms of your general credibility, I have found you to be a credible witness and I therefore believe what you have alleged in your oral testimony and in your Basis of Claim form. Your testimony was straightforward and was largely in keeping with your Basis of Claim form. And there are no significant inconsistencies or omissions that went to the heart of the claim.

[9]       I therefore find the following to be credible. That you are a num-, queer non-binary person facing persecution in Turkey due to your gender identity and sexual orientation. Your oral testimony today included details regarding your aware-, awareness that you were different from other people. And then discovering and exploring the label for your gender identity.

[10]     You also provided details regarding your relationships with women and non-binary people in Turkey and in Canada. And the everyday discrimination and physical and psychological violence you’ve faced from the society in Turkey. You also provided details about your involvement with the LGBTQ+ organizations in Turkey and in Canada, such as being the [XXX] of the student group in Turkey. And the virus-, vari-, various involvement with groups in Toronto like the [XXX] and the [XXX].

[11]     You also provided documents in support of your testimony, that you are a queer non-binary person who has been active in LGBTQ+ communities in Turkey and in Canada. And a person who experienced violence and discriminations in Turkey. Those documents include letters of support from your friends in Turkey and in Toronto who have the knowledge of violent incidents you faced.  As well as your active involvement and advocacy work for your communities. As well as letters of support from your roommates, former partner and current partner.

[12]     You’ve also submitted letters from different LGBTQ+ focus organizations in Toronto and in Turkey, including the 519 and Supporting Our Youths, to name a few. You’ve also submitted Facebook messages and posts.

[13]     Your testimony and the supporting documentation all establish that you are a queer non-binary person who has been experiencing violence in Turkey due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

[14]     The objective documentation supports your allegation that individuals in your circumstance face human rights abuse. Although there is no law that criminalize LGBTQ+ communities but the provisions of law on offense against public morality, protection of family and unnatural sexual behaviour are used as a basis for abuse according to National Documentation Package dated March 29th, 2019, Item 2.1.

[15]     Bans on LGBTQ+ events by the State officials in recent years has demonstrated in-, and National Documentation Package, Item 2.7 show that the LGBTQ+ communities and their members face discrimination and violence bail-, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Information in both the National Documentation Package and the country condition package submitted by the counsel in Exhibit 6 all corroborate the heightened level of violence against the LGBTQ+ communities and their rights by the State authorities.

[16]     In particular, the package provided inform-, package from the counsel provided information on the oppression on the student activists for LGBTQ+ rights, as well as the violence faced by transgender persons.

[17]     I therefore find that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. I find that adequate state protection would not be available to you if you were to seek it in Turkey. You testified that you never sought state protection because the State will be unwilling to protect you. And because the police were also the ones harassing you and targeting you. This is corroborated by the objective documentern-, documentary evidence. The objective documentary evidence indicates that in National Documenta-, Documentation Package, Item 1.14, that the government is unable or unwilling to protect vulnerable LGBTQ+ people from violence and discrimination.

[18]     Impunity for crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals continue to be reported as a problem. That according to NDP 21-, 2.1 there’s no state-, there’s no protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity on the criminal code. In light of the objective country documentation, I find that the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection.

[19]     Based on your personal scan-, circumstances as well as the objective country documentation, I find that the adequate state protection will not be available to you as the State will be unwilling and unable to protect you in Turkey.

[20]     As you have rebutted the presumption of state protection and since the country documentation indicates that the situation for individuals in circumstances suggests yours is the same throughout the country, I find that you do not have a viable internal flight alternative.

[21]     Based on the totality of evidence, I find that you have established that there is a serious possibility of persecution on a Convention ground, namely your membership in a particular social group as a queer non­binary person.

[22]     I therefore find that you are a Convention refugee and I accept your claim.

———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2019 RLLR 33

Citation: 2019 RLLR 33
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 20, 2019
Panel: O. Adeoye
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Amedeo Clivio
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-19724
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000186-000190


[1]       MEMBER: I’ve considered your testimony and your other evidence before me today, which includes your documentary evidence, and I’m ready to render my decision orally.

[2]       This is a claim for refugee protection made by [XXX], who claims to be a citizen of Turkey and is seeking refugee protection pursuant to sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Allegations

[3]       The summary of the claimant’s allegations are contained his Basis of Claim form and I will not repeat them all here.

[4]       In summary, the claimant alleges that he fears to return to Turkey because he’s involved in the Hizmet Movement, which is also known as the Gülen Movement.

[5]       He alleges that he supports the ideas of the movement’s leader or founder, Fetullah Gülen, and that these ideas deal with, among other things, religion, society, charity, and education.

[6]       He further alleges that due to his Kurdish ethnicity and his family’s longstanding history of being involvement with pro-Kurdish politics, he may be imputed to be a separatist Kurd or HDP supporter.

Determination

[7]       The Panel finds that the claimant is a Convention refugee because he faces a serious possibility of persecution on the Convention ground of his imputed political opinion in Turkey as a Hizmet follower.

Identity

[8]       The claimant’s identity as a national of Turkey is established by his testimony and certified true copy of his Turkish passport attached to Exhibit 1.

[9]       Also, the Panel finds that the claimant has established his Hizmet identity based on his affiliation with the Hizmet Movement, again through his testimony and supporting documentation attached to Exhibit 5.

Credibility

[10]     Overall, the Panel has found the claimant to be a credible witness on a balance of probabilities on what is core to his claim. In this case, his imputed political opinion as a follower of the Hizmet Movement.

[11]     The Panel therefore believes what he has alleged in support of his claim.

[12]     He testified in a straightforward manner and there were no relevant inconsistencies in his testimony or contradictions between his testimony and other evidence before the Panel that were not satisfactorily explained.

[13]     The claimant testified generally in a straightforward manner regarding his involvement in the Hizmet Movement, his reasons for becoming involved in the movement, his actions, his roles in support of the movement and affiliated institutions, and also he provided credible testimony regarding the movement as a whole, as well as providing information about members of the movement being mistreated by the Turkish authorities, which includes his family members.

[14]     Therefore the Panel finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant has been able to -­ that the claimant was involved in the Hizmet Movement since he was a child and in 2003 when he attended — was a child when he attended meetings with his uncle, and 2003 when he attended Hizmet affiliated prep school, and finds on a balance of probabilities — also finds on a balance of probabilities that he volunteered with Hizmet affiliated charities, purchased Hizmet affiliated, and subscribed to Hizmet affiliated publications.

[15]     So the Panel therefore finds on a balance of probabilities that the claimant is credible, accepts his allegations as credible, and that he has established his subjective fear.

Well-Founded Fear of Persecution

[16]     As it relates to the well-foundedness of the claimant’s fear of persecution, the Panel finds that the claimant’s subjective fear has an objective basis based on the objective documentary evidence before the Panel.

[17]     There is ample corroborating evidence in the country condition documents about the Turkish authority’s harsh treatment of members of the Hizmet Movement, which was worsened after the attempted coup in July 2016, for which the Turkish regime held the Gillen Movement responsible.

[18]     Item 2.3 in the National Documentation Package titled, “Freedom in the World 2017” states that:

[19]     “Turkey has a large number of active non-governmental organizations. However, authorities have mentioned and harassed many NGOs in recent years. In particular, those affiliated with the Gillen Hizmet Movement.

[20]     In the aftermath of the coup, 1,229 foundations and associations and 19 trade unions were shut down without judicial proceedings.”

[21]     Also:

“375 more associations and NGOs were closed for alleged links to terrorists and their assets were seized by the government.”

[22]     The National Documentation Package also reports that:

“There are significant problems with arbitrary and indefinite detention and mistreatment of those arrested or suspected to be Hizmet Movement and increasing lack of judicial independence, especially after the dismissal of more than 3,000 judges following the attempted coup, relaxation on restrictions on the use of torture, and widespread impunity for officials who commit human rights abuses persist in Turkey.”

[23]     There is also considerable evidence that:

“The authorities in Turkey have targeted family members of suspected Hizmet sympathizers or those who are wanted for arrest and cancelled their passports or even detained them.”

[24]     Furthermore, the evidence in the National Documentation Package notes the:

“Closing of Hizmet affiliated universities in Turkey and the broader negative effects on academic freedom and freedom of speech in Turkey that have resulted from Turkish authority’s crackdown on Hizmet followers, affiliated educational institutions, and other academics who have voiced criticism of the regime and its actions.”

[25]     After reviewing all this evidence which the Panel finds — after reviewing all this evidence, the Panel finds that the claimant’s allegations are consistent with the objective country condition documents with regards to the harsh treatment currently being made out against Hizmet supporters in Turkey, including dismissal from employment, increased closing down Hizmet affiliated education institutions, seizure of assets, detention, and mistreatment.

[26]     Therefore, based on this country documentary evidence and the credible allegations, the Panel finds that the claimant has a well-founded fear of persecution in Turkey by reason of his imputed political opinion.

State Protection

[27]     As the state is the agent of persecution — as the agent of persecution is the Government of Turkey, the Panel finds that it would be objectively unreasonable for the claimant to seek protection of the Turkish Government in light of the claimant’s particular circumstances.

Internal Flight Alternative

[28]     The Panel also finds that the claimant faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Turkey, especially given the objective documentary evidence that the Turkish authorities operates similarly throughout Turkey.

[29]     Therefore the Panel finds that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to the claimant.

Conclusion

[30]     The Panel finds that the claimant has established that he will face a serious possibility of persecution upon his return to Turkey on the Convention ground of his political opinion.

[31]     And based on the foregoing analysis, the Panel has determined that the claimant is a Convention refugee as per section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and therefore accepts his claim.

– – – DECISION CONCLUDED – – –

Categories
All Countries Turkey

2019 RLLR 32

Citation: 2019 RLLR 32
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: December 19, 2019
Panel: D. McKeown
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Nasser Hashemi
Country: Turkey
RPD Number: TB9-15470
Associated RPD Number(s): TB9-15505
ATIP Number: A-2021-01124
ATIP Pages: 000183-000185


[1]       MEMBER: I have considered the testimony and other evidence in this claim, and I am now prepared to render a decision.

[2]       The Claimants are [XXX] and [XXX]. They seek refugee protection against Iran pursuant to sections 96 and 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For the following reasons, the Panel finds that the Claimants are Convention refugees, and this claim is accepted:

[3]       This claim is based on the following allegations:

[4]       The Claimants are citizens of Iran but have lived in Turkey on work permits since 2013. The Claimants started attending church in Turkey in December of 2017 and have continued attending church ever since that time. The Claimants arrived in Canada on [XXX] — excuse me — in [XXX] of 2018 as visitors. While they were here, they continued to develop their faith as Christians and they decided to seek protection here. They signed their Basis of Claims on June 12th, 2019.

[5]       The identities of the Claimants were established on the basis of their Iranian passports, the originals of which were seized by the Minister.

[6]       The Panel’s primary concern about this claim was the appearance on the face of the allegations that the Claimants were misrepresenting themselves as genuine Christian followers in order to gain immigration status in Canada. That possibility was suggested on the face of these facts, wherein the Claimants only sought protection in Canada in June 2019, despite having been here as Christians since [XXX] 2019. The Claimant explained that they came to Canada initially simply as tourists and had no intention to seek protection here when they initially arrived. It was not an easy decision to make to leave their country and families behind, so it was not until April 2019 that they finally decided they could never return to Iran again.

[7]       The Panel was concerned about why the Claimants were still in Canada in April 2019 if it was only their intention to come here as tourists. The Claimant explained that originally they had a round-trip return ticket to leave Canada after one month, but they extended their stay simply because they enjoyed being here. The Claimants then sought advice from immigration consultants about trying to remain in Canada on student visas.

[8]       The Panel is very concerned about this testimony. It does appear to the Panel on its face that the Claimants were not simply in Canada with the intention of visiting, but rather, that they did have the intent to immigrate. However, while the Panel is significantly concerned, the Panel cannot at this time unequivocally conclude on a balance of probabilities that immigration was their actual underlying intention. The Panel is not prepared to conclude that this concern over their delay undermines their presumption of truthfulness nor the ultimate threshold that they must meet which is a serious possibility of persecution. Despite the Panel’s concerns, in all other respects the Panel found that this claim was credible.

[9]       The Claimant spoke about his life — their life in Iran and then in Turkey. He spoke about how they became interested in Christianity and how their conversion was a slow and drawn out process, occurring over many months. The Claimant also spoke about how his education in Christianity developed so fast and so early that he was even considering becoming a pastor.

[10]     The Panel find this testimony was compelling. The Claimant was consistent, straightforward, and spontaneous, and there did not appear to be any attempt to embellish this part of the Claimant’s testimony. Where the Panel did have any other concerns, they were either reasonably explained or minimal in nature, and did not ultimately impact on the credibility of this claim. While the Panel has its concerns, therefore, on a balance of probabilities the Panel is prepared to accept the Claimants’ conversion to Christianity as genuine.

[11]     The Panel has access to credible and reliable sources in the National Documentation Package, such as the U.S. Department of State Report, which makes clear that apostasy is punishable by death in Iran. The Panel is satisfied that the Claimants fit the profile of persons at a high risk of persecution. Whereas the state is the agent of persecution, the Claimants have rebutted the presumption that state protection would be adequate and forthcoming to them. Likewise, there is no location in Iran the Claimants could go where they would not face a serious possibility of persecution. For all these reasons, the Panel finds that this claim is credible. The Claimants’ fear is well-founded. The Claimants face a serious possibility of persecution in Iran on account of their religion. The Claimants are Convention refugees, and this claim is accepted.

[12]     Just for one more point of clarity. Where this Panel has referred to the Claimant in the singular throughout this — these reasons, that refers to the male Claimant, although these reasons apply to both Claimants equally.

[13]     Thank you both very much for being here. Thank you very much, Mr. Interpreter, thank you.

[14]     INTERPRETER: You’re welcome.

[15]     MEMBER: Everyone have a good afternoon.

— HEARING ADJOURNED