Monday, 6 June 2011

Austria preparing to remove Turkish trans asylum seeker

Poster showing murdered Turkish trans activist Ebru Soykan
By Paul Canning

Austrian transgender group TransX reports that a trans-woman from Turkey is being threatened with removal by the Austrian authorities.

Her case was being advocated for her by the Austrian Association for Human Rights (Verein Menschenrechte Österreich). TransX are calling for it to be reviewed on the basis that her application for asylum to the Austrian Ministry of Interior was "messed up" by the Association.

Yasar Öztürk came from Turkey and asked for asylum in Austria in September 2009. She was abused by police and beaten by "transphobic rowdys" in Turkey. In a knife attack, she was seriously injured by a lung puncture. The police refused to accept her complaint. The attack has left her blind in one eye.

Yasar is at risk of being murdered (“honour” killing) by her family. In Turkey, she had to go into hiding, says TransX, and if she is removed and her family finds her she will be murdered. Some of Yasar's close friends were assassinated in recent years, they say.

Yasar has lived as a woman for many years. During puberty she developed female forms and there is strong suspicion that she is actually intersex.

Human rights organisations have issued numerous reports on violence against transgender people in Turkey, including from police, and the lack of a response from the Turkish government. ILGA-Europe's submission to the European Community's 2011 Progress Report on Turkey said:
"Hate crimes target particularly transgender people in Turkey. It doesn’t therefore come as a surprise that amongst all 47 CoE member states, Turkey ranks first for trans murder cases. Only in 2010, 7 trans people were murdered in Turkey."
"Police harassment and abuse of transgender women is a widespread practice in Turkey. Physical violence, psychological abuse, rape and unjustified fines are common practice in the police forces against transgender women in Turkey." 
"While on a fact finding trip to Turkey, ILGA-Europe documented the case of police violence against 5 transgender women in Ankara on 17 May, 20102. After the incident the 5 trans women were charged with “resistance to police authority”. However, none of the police officers responsible for the violence were hold accountable." 
TranX held a protest in 2009 outside the Turkish Embassy in Vienna against hate crimes against transgender people.

Verein Menschenrechte Österreich managed her case with the asylum authorities. Her application for asylum was rejected at first instance. The legal representation of the Verein Menschenrechte Österreich missed the opportunity to appeal and, according to TransX, "messed up the resumption of the proceedings". TransX say that Yasar may not have told her whole story from the beginning, due to shame (which is common with LGBT asylum cases but is seen by authorities as effecting their credibility). A new legal advocate for her has just been instructed.

29 May Yasar was arrested in Vienna. An attempt to prevent deportation due to Article 3 ECHR (ban on refoulement) failed.

Her removal is due to take place 15 June.

TransX says:
"After all legal remedies have been exhausted, it is now necessary to bring the case to the public to generate as much pressure as possible. We will inform the press and also create pressure on officials."
They are organising a demonstration for 8 June at 5pm in front of the prison where Yasar is being held on Hernalser Gürtel / Breitenfelder Gasse, 1080 Vienna

Her case is being supported by RKL - Rechtskomitee LAMBDA, Jean-Pierre Garbade (Avocat, Genève), Trans Austria, Die Grünen andersrum and Im Kontex.

Federal Councillor Jennifer Kickert, LGBT spokeswoman for the Austrian Green Party said:
"A deportation to Turkey means Öztürk is in acute danger to life and limb. Here Austria has to respect non-refoulement bid that no one should be returned to a country where her / his life is endangered. I say clearly: Yasar Ozturk must stay." 
The Green Party MEP and co-chair of the LGBT Intergroup in European Parliament, Ulrike Lunacek, said:
"If Austria's agreement with the core values of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is ​​not only rhetoric, there must be no removal of Yasar Öztürk. Europe must ensure the protection of transsexuals and lesbians and Gays from persecution in their countries of origin through the right of asylum - no ifs and buts. Because, unfortunately, transphobic hate crime is regularly perpetrated in Turkey, Yasar must not be deported."
Protest-Mails can be sent to:
Petitions can be sent to:
    For more information e-mail: Phone: +43 / 680 / 24 14 748

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