The sultan’s slipper

Kars, Turkey, photo: Konstantin Novakovic

Kars, Turkey, photo: Konstantin Novakovic

The extradition of a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, Cevdet Ayaz, caused an avalanche of comments and reactions from the public. This controversial case can be seen in two ways. First, the manner in which the extradition occurred is strange, to say the least. Namely, despite the judgment of the European court of human rights in 2006 and clear indications that the verdict of the Turkish court based on which Ayaz was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment was based on a confession made under duress, he was refused protection and refugee status. The asylum commission, as the first instance, and the asylum office, as the second instance, declared this case to be outside their jurisdiction, stating that Ayaz had entered Serbia from Montenegro, which is considered a safe third country by Serbia. The concept of a safe third country, already elaborated on Pescanik, actually serves to enable states to suspend the asylum procedure for people who have failed to seek protection from the countries in which they previously stayed.

In the extradition procedure initiated on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the Turkish authorities, the issue of human rights violations and persecutions in the State of extradition seems to have not been considered at all. Novi Sad court of appeal had previously annulled the decision on extradition of the basic court in Sabac three times. However, on the fourth attempt, it was approved. Things became even more complicated when the ministry of justice, as the final instance in the extradition procedure, granted extradition despite the order of the UN committee against torture that the authorities of the Republic of Serbia refrain from returning Mr. Ayaz to Turkey because of the risk of abuse he may face there. Finally, it appears that the civil servants who carried out the extradition openly lied to the members of the Belgrade center for human rights when they said that Cevdet Ayaz was not put on the plane to Turkey. All of this is very unusual for a state under the rule of law fostering independent judiciary, in which human rights are respected and which aims to become a full member of the European Union in the foreseeable future.

These huge omissions can only be explained if we change the viewing angle. Serbia is a state of injustice in which decisions on all social issues and even basic rights of individuals are made arbitrarily. There is nothing independent in the state apparatus. No employee of any organization which is directly or indirectly financed by the state can act independently. Every decision of the state, even when it comes to the personal and physical integrity of an individual, is viewed as a bargaining chip, which could be used in the great chess game. The plan of our chief strategist is simple: to be as servile towards the strong and as aggressive and ruthless to the weak. The fates of people the authorities do not consider important, the recommendations of the international bodies, the appeals of activists and lawyers are insufficient to interfere with the intent to please a powerful state by extraditing the person it claims. Turkey is a country which doesn’t tolerate different opinions, in which hundreds of thousands of people are subjected to persecution and which uses abuse systematically. This is why most European countries refuse to extradite the persons claimed by Turkey. A bizarre detail is that the excellent cooperation between the authorities of Serbia and Turkey regarding extradition was not hampered even by the completely inappropriate statement of the then prime minister and today’s president of Turkey: Kosovo is Turkey. On the other hand, Macedonia is openly threatened if it doesn’t comply with Serbia’s position on Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO, Serbian intelligence agents are storming the Macedonian parliament disguised as protesters, etc. Serbia behaves like that donkey on which the tactic of a stick and carrot is applied. Namely, when the donkey realises that he can get the carrot without getting hit, he doesn’t hesitate to do all sorts of mischief. For example, to stomp the flowers, spoil the lettuce, or crush the animals smaller than himself underneath his hooves.

Therefore, it is necessary to say this loud and clear: the Republic of Serbia has unlawfully extradited Mr. Cevdet Ayaz to Turkey, knowingly placing him at risk of abuse and even death, ignoring its international obligations and the measure of the UN committee against torture. All this was done so that a man representing Serbia could please a man representing Turkey. Officials of the asylum office and commission, judges, the minister of justice, and the civil servants who conducted the extradition demonstrated an enviable level of coordination in their efforts to make Mr. Ayaz available to Turkish authorities.

More serious states which return the persons under their control to countries where there is a real danger for them to be subjected to torture or other forms of abuse, at least require the receiving state to formally guarantee that a repatriated person won’t to be subjected to punishments or treatment considered abusive by international law. According to the available information, the authorities of the Republic of Serbia did not seek guarantees from Turkey that Cevdet Ayaz would be treated humanely or that he would be granted the right to a fair trial. When it comes to other “guarantees”, like, for example, that some Turkish investors will open a sock factory in Prokuplje or start production of burek in Tutin, we can only speculate.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Peščanik.net, 11.01.2018.