Armenia denies asylum to Kurdish woman fleeing political persecution
Kurdish dissident Cevriye Okuyucu was detained while attempting to cross the Turkish-Armenian border with a fake passport. Armenian human rights defenders claim she is fleeing political persecution in Turkey, while the Armenian authorities intend to extradite her.
The Helsinki Citizen Assembly office in Vanadzor says Okuyucu is a Kurdish activist. The reason for her fleeing Turkey was persecution by the authorities for her political views. Okuyucu is a member of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party of Turkey.
The statement made by the Vanadzor Helsinki Citizen Assembly office reads as follows:
“On 20 July 2018, our Turkish partners turned to our Organization, reporting that Turkish citizen Cevriye Okuyucu, avoiding political persecution, crossed the state border of the Republic of Armenia with a forged passport under the name Şaziye Demir. According to the information we received, Cevriye Okuyucu intended to seek asylum in Armenia and then leave for another western country.”
The same group deems the Armenian authorities’ intent to extradite Okuyucu to Turkey unacceptable:
“Her extradition to Turkey poses a threat to her freedom and inviolability … she will be arrested immediately [upon arrival in Turkey] and might be subjected to torture after being deprived of freedom. Her extradition to Turkey will be a violation of the rights which are guaranteed by Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
The Vanadzor cell of the organization insists that the Armenian authorities allow Okuyucu to freely leave for a third country.
“The grounds for Armenia not to extradite this citizen to Ankara are the persecution for political views and the inhumane treatment in places where liberty is deprived, such as what we observe in Turkey,” said Arthur Sakunts, chairman of the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Assembly.
In a conversation with JAM news, the human rights defender also stated that this is not the first time a foreign citizen fled to Armenia seeking asylum:
“Others have fled to Armenia before as well, and instead of acting according to the law, these people, like the citizen of Turkey, were detained. You cannot detain a person who asks for political asylum.”