Turkey has been ordered to pay compensation to nineteen refugees, former members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IDU) and their families, for being exiled to Iran in 2008. The human rights activist Nadezhda Ataeva believes that they are more in need of an asylum than compensation.
On December 3, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Republic of Turkey and ordered its government to pay 10,000 Euros each to nineteen Uzbek refugees for an illegal deportation to Iran in 2008.
In addition, Turkey is to pay an addition 2,500 Euros to pay for relocation expenses from Turkey to Iran.
The Human Rights of Central Asia Association president Nadezhda Ataeva believes the decision of the court to be unsatisfactory. While seeking financial assistance for the refugee families it stops short in ensuring that they are received back by the country before they are finally resettled to their new country of residence.
“As a result the question of their safety becomes paramount,” says Ataeva.
Among the nineteen refugees exiled to Iran only four were grown men, the rest are women and children.
The refugees are: Mr Anvar Ghorbanov, Ms Nasibeh Ghorbanov, Ms Nadereh Ghorbanov, Ms Omokolsoum Ghorbanov, Mr Mohammad Ghorbanov, Mr Ibrahim Ghorbanov, Mr Ologhbeig Rahmanov, Ms Tajkhan Rahmanov, Ms Ameneh Rahmanov, Mr Mohammadali Rahmanov, Ms Maryam Rahmanov, Ms Fatima Rahmanov, Ms Zehra Rahmanov, Mr Oktamjan Rahmanov, Ms Sedaghat Rahmanov, Ms Rahimeh Rahmanov, Ms Marziyeh Rahmanov, Mr Zaher Tordiev and Ms Maheireh Tordiev.
From Uzbek police to IDU camp
The plight of these refugees began in Uzbekistan and took them through Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.
They fled Uzbekistan from fear of being accused of religious extremism and terrorism and got entangled with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IDU), considered by the EU and the USA to be a terrorist organization.
The refugees told the court that they only lived at the IDU’s camp and did not engage in any military activities.
According to Ataeva, their
|IDU leader Djuma Namangani was killed in 2001 in Afghanistan by the US forces|
troubles began in Djami mosque in Andijan in the 1990s where the prominent imam Abduvali-kori Mirzoev was preaching at the time. He disappeared without trace from the airport in Tashkent in 1995.
The believers who attended his mosque have been subject to persecution ever since imam’s disappearance.
One day before Mirzoev’s disappearance Djami mosque received a large quantity of Korans, which were given out to the believers for free. Shortly after that the Uzbek law enforcement conducted mass searches of the houses of the people who received free copies.
The raids by the government were usually carried out at dawn and search warrants were presented. However instead of “Koran” they said “Kurol,” which means “weapons” in Uzbek.
The early victims of the raids were business cooperatives owners and merchants. Fearing arrest, the men who had attended the mosque fled to other parts of the country while waiting for their departure to Tajikistan.
At that time many Fergana valley families moved to Tajikistan where the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan camp was established under Djuma Namangani and Tahir Yuldashev leadership.
According to Ataeva, the women there were raising children and making clothes and the men growing food and producing leather. With time the refugees and the IDU leaders started disagreeing, especially with Tahir Yuldashev, and the Uzbeks decided to leave.
Further South – to Afghanistan
From Tajikistan they ended in Afghanistan which they left in 2001 when the US started its war against Afghanistan. They moved to Pakistan and finally ended up in Iran where they received refugee status in 2001.
In 2007 twenty-seven of the former “IDU members” moved to the Turkish city of Van where they were still considered to be under the protection of the UN High Commission for Refugees.
They lived there for a year until on September 12, 2008, twenty-four of them were driven in police cars to the border with Iran and forced to cross the border by foot.
Once in Iran, the banished group were captured by extortionists who demanded 3,000 US dollars in exchange for their freedom. The remaining relatives in Turkey collected the necessary sum.
Since the group had been previously threatened by the Iranian authorities with extradition back to Uzbekistan they decided to return to Turkey.
A month later the situation was repeated – the Turkish law enforcement captured the refugees and took them to Iran again.
A couple of days later the group managed to get in touch with international human rights organizations and let them know that they were in the mountains near the border. They did not have food and warm clothes but were afraid of going to the Iranian refugee camp Arok.
Since that time they have lived in hiding, fearing the unpredictable actions of Turkey and Iran.
Despite receiving the UN High Commission for Refugees certificate every several months, they are unable to move to a Western European country as the men of the group are being sought for their alleged terrorist activities.