By Constantinos Psillides
A KURDISH father of six was deported to Turkey yesterday following a police raid on his family home and the arrest of his wife and children, according to the immigrant support group KISA.
He could face threats to his life as he had escaped persecution in Turkey.
The man was deported despite pleas by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) offices in Cyprus and KISA, who pointed out that breaking up families violates international law.
According to KISA, police officers from the Immigration office stormed the family’s home in Larnaca at 5.30 a.m. and forcibly removed the mother and five of the children. One child, a 14-year old, avoided arrest and walked to a friend’s home for shelter some 20 kms away, Doros Polykarpou, head of KISA told the Cyprus Mail.
Polycarpou also claimed that Immigration tried to have the mother thrown in jail by handing the children over to Welfare Services but their request was denied. KISA claims that Welfare officials maintained that the children should stay with their mother. The family was returned to their home.
KISA said that two of the children bear signs of abuse as a result of their capture.
The oldest child is 16 and the youngest four. Out of the six, only the youngest was born in Cyprus and all children attend public schools.
The raid at the family home and the deportation of the father took place just a day after the mother and the children staged a demonstration outside the Interior ministry, asking that the father be released. The mother said that she had no other source of income and that her family was living in a terrible condition.
KISA added that a ministry official promised the family that their request would be taken into consideration and that they would have their answer on Monday, July 21.
According to KISA, the father filed for asylum in 2005 claiming that he was arrested and tortured by Turks because of his ethnicity.
Immigration services and the Interior ministry issued a statement late in the afternoon, explaining that the man’s asylum request had been rejected by courts and that he was considered an illegal resident since 2011. The man came to Cyprus illegally through the occupied areas in 2005, followed by his family in 2008.
Immigration Services noted that the man was arrested in December, with the intent of deportation. The deportation order was signed yesterday morning.
The statement by Immigration services didn’t confirm or deny the claims of police brutality reported by KISA.
“The ministry only responds on the facts and doesn’t bother with KISA’s characterisations,” it said.