The new Cities of Asylum-writer in Oslo denied passage out of Turkey

PRESS RELEASE
The new Cities of Asylum-writer in Oslo denied passage out of Turkey

Iranian-Kurdish poet Ayaz Khoshyawashan has been invited by Norwegian authorities as the new Cities of Asylum-writer in Oslo, but Turkish authorities denies him passage out of Turkey.

Ayaz Khoshyawashan is among the approximately 1.200 Iranian refugees who have arrived in Turkey after a temporary stay in Iraq.  According to the Turkish authorities, these refugees have to return to Iraq, but given the current situation in that country they have been granted temporary permission to stay in Turkey.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is in dialogue with the Turkish authorities, but these do not permit the UNHCR to administer placement of the refugees to other countries, fearing a situation where an increasing number of Iranian refugees will use Turkey as a transit country.

UNHCR has now asked Turkish authorities to be more flexible, especially concerning those refugees who will put themselves in danger by returning to Iraq and those who have medical- or health problems that cannot be treated in Turkey.  The UNHCR has also asked for special treatment for those refugees who have secured their residence permit outside Turkey, which is the case for Ayaz Khoshyawashan.

Norwegian PEN finds it absurd that a refugee, invited to stay in Oslo as a City of Asylum-writer by the authorities and thus having secured permanent residency in Norway, is not allowed to leave Turkey.  In connection with the state visit of Turkish PM Erdogan this week, we ask Norwegian media to question the Turkish prime minister about this special case.

Prior to his visit Norwegian PEN has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Embassy in Ankara as well as the Mayor of Oslo about the situation and asked that PM Erdogan be informed.

Oslo, 12. April 2005