Turkey is a war zone, not a ‘Safe Country’ – Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP and member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee in the European Parliament Martina Anderson, has described as insulting the inclusion of Turkey on a list of ‘Safe Countries’ published by the European Commission.

Speaking from Strasbourg after a debate on the situation in Turkey, Martina Anderson MEP stated;

“The inclusion of Turkey on this ‘Safe Countries’ list is insulting and shocking. The stated purpose of this list is to allow EU Member States to streamline the asylum process, but the reality is something completely different. If passed this list would allow EU member states to remove and dilute the rights and services available to people fleeing war and persecution.

“States would be permitted to make a decision on a refugee at their border, without any appeal process, whilst also removing access to retention facilities for anyone from these ‘safe’ countries. As lead MEP for our Parliamentary group on this file I will ensure the rights of refugees and asylum seekers are a priority for legislators in Brussels.

Speaking specifically on Turkey’s inclusion on the list, Martina Anderson continued;

“By the established criteria Turkey in no way is a ‘Safe Country’ of origin. Turkish democracy has been severely undermined by the actions of the Erdogan regime. There exist restrictions on press freedoms and a fear of arrest and detention. Most critically, however, is the Turkish treatment of the Kurdish population.

“Since July last year the Turkish state has embarked on a merciless military campaign against the Kurdish population. Shoot-To-Kill, mass detention, artillery bombardment, Collective Punishment, military curfews and the prevention of medical aid are daily experiences for the Kurdish people. Our comrades in the Peoples’ Democratic Party have provided us with concise details of the situation there, in which nearly 450 civilians have been killed in a few short months.

“Until there is a lasting and viable ceasefire in the region and a genuine peace process, Turkey cannot be considered a ‘safe country’ for its own inhabitants, never mind refugees.”