Two political asylum seekers from Turkey have been rejected first by an Augsburg court, then by an appeal court in Munich, Germany. Speaking to Artı TV, Sinem Mut and Anıl Kaya criticized the ruling both in terms of the judges’ disregard for the rights of expression and association, and also for the double standards they signified, since others – reportedly in exactly the same situation – were granted asylum in other German states.
Mut and Kaya were detained and arrested in 2012 when they were both university students, on the charge that they were members of an illegal organisation. Mut, a student at Hacettepe University in the capital city of Ankara at the time, said they were members of the Democratic Rights Association (DHD), one of the hundreds of associations shut down by the end of 2016 during the State of Emergency that had been declared following the military coup attempt of 15 July 2016.
As Mut and Kaya were released, they were put alongside other association members on trial, and the court ruled for a prison term of six years and three months in 2019. By that time, both Mut and Kaya had graduated and Mut was working as an academic while Kaya was a post-graduate student.
They went to Germany in March and applied for asylum. When they were rejected at the initial phase, they took the case to court in April 2020. An Augsburg court examined their case and approved the rejection, following which the ruling was brought to an appeal court in Munich, Bavaria, which ended up with the approval of the rejection for the second time.
“The court in Augsburg was very much the same as the court in Turkey,” Sinem Mut stated. “We were faced with similar questions. They asked if we possessed the book by Kaypakkaya [Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, a political youth leader in Turkey during 1960s; founder of the Communist Party of Turkey – Marxist-Leninist] in our homes. They asked if we actually joined demonstrations on 1 May [International Labour Day], 8 March [International Women’s Day], and on the anniversary of the Roboski massacre [when 34 civilians were in a bombing by Turkish jets on 28 December 2011 along the Iraq-Turkey border]. We had previously been asked the same questions by the Turkish court. We said in court that we had joined the demonstrations which were all legal, and we’d been exercising our democratic rights.”
When the initial asylum rejection was approved by the court, they had decided to take their case to an appeal court. “The appeal court in Munich made a ruling within a month,” Mut said. “They saw no problem with the ruling of the Augsburg court. Now, we are asked to leave Germany by 21 August.”
Anıl Kaya, the other asylum seeker, asserted that the ruling in their case has signified a legal double standard. He noted that their friends, who had received prison terms in their same case in Turkey, had been granted asylum in the other states of Germany.
“We have the disadvantage of being in Bavaria,” he said. “Here, they don’t want to let in people who have taken part in a struggle in their home countries. The court says the country ruled by Tayyip Erdoğan is a democratic one. They say it is not their concern that there is a possibility of us being tortured in prison.”