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Turkiye deports Syrian lawyer after arresting his mother in pressure campaign

Turkish police officers in Istanbul on 29 May 2021 [YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images]
Turkish police officers in Istanbul on 29 May 2021 [YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images]

Turkish forces arrested a Syrian doctor over the weekend, in an apparent bid to force her son to surrender to authorities after making criticism of the State.

On Saturday night, Turkish security forces detained Dr Ghada Al-Hamdoun from her home in the eastern city of Gaziantep, after which she was reportedly taken to a deportation centre for Syrian refugees.

In a Facebook post by her son, Salahuddin Dabbagh, a lawyer, he stated that the arrest was an attempt to coerce him into surrendering to Turkish authorities after Turkish opposition parties made allegations that he had criticised Turkiye and its policies. "The case has gotten out of its legal context and turned into a political one," he said in the post, adding that he would surrender himself to authorities in order to save his mother.

According to the Syrian human rights activist and lawyer, Taha Al-Ghazi, the arrest of the doctor and the pressure against Dabbagh was "a piece of the domino platform in the field of violations that Syrian refugees have been subjected to by some elements of the Turkish security and the government sector during the past years".

READ: Protests rock Northern Syria after Turkiye FM's comments of possible reconciliation with Assad regime

In his most recent Facebook post today, Dabbagh stated that after consultations with lawyers, he was forced to head down to the deportation centre to turn himself in for the release of his mother. From there, he was driven to the Karkamis border crossing which leads from Gaziantep to the northern Syrian city of Jarablus.

Unlike the usual process of "voluntary" returns – which are carried out by Turkish authorities by pressuring Syrian refugees to sign documents for their return to Syria in the Turkish language – Dabbagh said he was not even granted that requirement, making it officially a forced deportation.

Earlier this year, reports increasingly emerged asserting that Turkish authorities have forcibly deported – usually in the "voluntary" process – over 155,000 Syrian refugees to Syria over the years. That is despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's assurances that the return of refugees will be entirely voluntary. Opposition parties, however, have openly admitted their plans to indefinitely deport all refugees if they are elected to power.

Dabbagh and his mother's case comes at a time when Syrian refugees who have taken up forms of activism or journalism, or have simply spoken up against certain policies, are increasingly being targeted by Turkish authorities.

READ: Turkish ultranationalists should know that Assad is their enemy, not Syrian refugees

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