Kurdish man facing deportation would ‘rather die in Sweden than Turkey’

Zinar Bozkurt, a Kurdish asylum seeker in Sweden, has stopped drinking sugar water after six days in hunger strike to protest his impending deportation to Turkey.

Deportation procedures were temporarily halted on Wednesday upon a review of Bozkurt’s case, but the 26 year old man has not been released from a migrant detention centre in Kållered, Gothenburg.

“I would rather die here than in Turkey. If I am deported I know I will be subjected to severe torture. As such, I have turned my hunger strike into a death fast,” Bozkurt told news website Duvar on Friday.

Bozkurt’s lawyer Abdullah Deveci expects an interview with authorities in the next two weeks for a final ruling on his asylum application.

“We hope to obtain a ruling under the law,” Deveci said. “NATO talks continue, and we are facing elections. Unfortunately, a lot goes on behind closed doors. Zinar’s process is completely politicised, it has nothing to do with the law.”

Swedish law states that asylum seekers should be given a one-year residence permit if they are at risk of inhumane treatment or torture in their home countries, even if they are not granted refuge.

“All reports indicate that there is widespread torture in Turkey. So, we expect the Immigration Office to give a positive response,” Deveci told Duvar.

Bozkurt was placed in a migrant detention centre on August 19, after having lived in Sweden since 2014 on a work visa. In 2016, when his family home in Turkey’s southern Adana province was raided by the police, he applied for asylum.

In 2018, Swedish intelligence service SAPÖ accused Bozkurt of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for four decades that is designated a terrorist organisation in Turkey and the European Union.

Bozkurt was asked why he attended demonstrations where participants waved PKK flags. “I told them in Sweden all are free to carry any flag they wish, and that I never held any flags. I have no connection to the PKK. I am a Kurd, and I support the HDP,” he recounted to Duvar in an earlier interview.

His asylum application was rejected in 2021, and he was living without proper documents since. Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency cited SAPÖ as saying Bozkurt was deemed a security threat to Sweden, and other similar reports led him to believe he would face persecution if he returned to Turkey, he said.

Sweden has reportedly accepted to deport at least one Turkish citizen as per the Nordic country’s deal with Turkey, where Turkey agreed to refrain from vetoing Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO in return for tighter anti-terrorism measures and the return of more than 70 people wanted by Turkish authorities, most of whom have sought asylum in their host countries.

While Turkish citizen Okan Kale is to be extradited to face charges of credit card fraud in Turkey, Bozkurt is not on the list. Sweden has refused to extradite several people on the list, including publisher and human rights advocate Ragıp Zarakolu and others accused of affiliation with the PKK.

On Friday, officials from the three countries met for the first time in Finland after the deal to discuss security concerns.

This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.