There have been reports circulating in the Arab media about a young Egyptian who was sentenced to death and that Turkey handed him over to the Sisi administration. Particularly pro-Sisi social media in Egypt is trying to present the issue as if Turkey has suddenly decided to collaborate with Sisi and that dissidents will be brought back to Egypt no matter where they are hiding. Of course, they also sauce it up by arrogantly and pedantically by implying that Turkey cannot be trusted and that dissidents should come back home before it is too late.
It is as if the Sisi administration asked Turkey to extradite him and Turkey hastily arrested this person who was charged with the death penalty and handed him over to Egypt.
There is, of course, something strange going on here. Since it hadn’t even been 24 hours since this person arrived in Turkey, how could the Egyptian government possibly ask Turkey to extradite him, based on which judgement, through which communication channels and how could Turkey possibly evaluate this demand and hand him over to Egypt saying “Here he is, do whatever you want to do to him” in such a short amount of time?
To tell the truth, the visuals of this person when he was arrested and put on a plane shows that we are facing an unacceptable situation here. But is the story they have been telling us true? We made an inquiry and got our answer.
Turkey is one of the first countries where people who are oppressed, who have suffered, and convicted as a result of unfair trials in their countries consider seeking asylum. There are already over 5 million people from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Myanmar, Afghanistan, East Turkestan and from other countries who had to leave their countries because of the difficult conditions and sought refuge in Turkey. Even though Turkey has been facing more difficulties than European countries in terms of observing the refugee law, it is honorably dealing with these problems and the high number of cases.
Of course, every country has a capacity for accepting refugees and Turkey is already pushing its limits. Turkey is also a country abiding by the international agreements of Interpol and entering the country is regulated by certain rules and visa procedures. Turkey is not a country that anyone can enter without a valid visa.
Despite all this, Turkey pays special attention to the refugees coming from countries where human rights violations have become systematic.
Today, Egypt is living under a military coup administration which increases the most intense and cruel oppression and human rights violations committed day by day and disrespects its people’s right to a fair trial. The entire world witnessed when over eight hundred people were convicted to death within half an hour without even having a chance to defend themselves in a trial. That is why, when it comes to the Egyptian authorities, the phrase “the person who was sentenced to death” doesn’t mean anything. This is perceived, in the first place, not as an actual crime committed in Egypt but the elimination of the opposition with invalid reasons.
Turkey has never handed over anyone to the Sisi administration based on the fact that a person was sentenced to death and it won’t.
Moreover, it is known that the Egyptian government is abusing its authority in Interpol by declaring some opposition figures as criminals with petty offenses and registering them with Interpol due to these offenses. That is why the red bulletins Egypt gives to Interpol are not valid anymore. We already know that criminals of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and other criminals from Turkey can freely roam around Egypt under the protection of Sisi.
Many people are being randomly tried left and right in Egypt, but even though it has been more than 6 years since the coup plotters viciously slaughtered 3,000 people and burned their bodies after gathering them in one place with heavy construction equipment, not a single investigation has been launched within the context of this crime. Where is justice here?
Under these circumstances, it cannot be possible for Turkey to hand over an Egyptian citizen to Sisi because he was sentenced to death or convicted for another reason.
Well, then, how was Mohammed Abdelhafez put on the plane going to Cairo and sent back to his country?
According to the information I obtained from Director General of the Migration Management Office the abovementioned person arrived in Turkey on Jan. 16 as a transit passenger on his way from Mogadishu to Cairo, but instead of heading to his plane going to Cairo he wanted to enter Turkey by going to the passport control point at 07.19 am. He wanted to enter the country, but he didn’t have a valid visa. The e-visa he had was obtained because he misinformed the system about his age, hence it was a fake or an invalid visa. After it was declared that he could not enter the country as a part of the procedure, he either had to be sent back to where he came from with the plane he came or he had to be sent to his next destination point, to Cairo.
According to information of the authorities from the Directorate General of the Migration Management, this person didn’t ask for political asylum. Since he didn’t make any demand he was directed to the authorities tasked with sending him back either to Mogadishu or to his final destination, Cairo, under the status “inadmissible passenger”. If he had made such a demand, the extradition procedure would have been stopped until his demand was evaluated. Why Abdelhafez, despite all the convictions against him, didn’t demand political asylum is a question we must ask.
Of course, it is impossible for airport authorities to know about his special condition without his informing them. But can we impeach the authorities for not correctly evaluating the resistance he showed?
Did Abdelhafez want to inform them about his condition but couldn’t express himself because of the language barrier?
Was it necessary to put him in handcuffs and hand him over to Sisi by forcibly putting him on a plane?
These are the questions we need answers to. The Director General of the Migration Management Office Abdullah Ayaz, whose most humane and helpful approach to the issues regarding migrants in difficult conditions I have long admired, stated that this incident upset the Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu very much and that he is closely following the investigation launched under his orders. I hope we never witness such incidents again in our Turkey, a country rightly renowned for its humane policies.