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 Japan: Immigration detains Kurdish asylum-seeker

 Source : The Japan Times
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Japan: Immigration detains Kurdish asylum-seeker 19.3.2005
By MASAMI ITO, The Japan Times


The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Friday detained Kurdish asylum-seeker Erdal Dogan, his supporters said.

The 31-year-old asylum-seeker, who was making preparations to move to Canada, visited the immigration bureau in Minato Ward in the morning to renew his provisional release, which must be renewed each month on threat of detention.

But this time, Dogan's request was denied and he was detained, his supporters said.

"We told the Justice Ministry that it was highly likely that the Dogans would be able to move to Canada," Fumio Azuma, leader of the support group, told a news conference after Dogan was seized.

According to the support group, arrangements were being made with the Canadian government for the Dogans to move there, although they wanted to stay in Japan if possible.

"Why would (the Japanese government) detain someone as such? This is harassment," Azuma said.

The remaining Dogans include wife Meryem, 28, their two small children, and Dogan's 27-year-old brother.

They and another Kurdish refugee family staged a protest sit-in outside the United Nations University building last summer.

But the father and his eldest son were deported back to Turkey in January, despite being U.N.-designated "mandate refugees."

At the news conference, Meryem broke down in tears.

"I will never forget the pain the Japanese government has caused us," she said. "We are asylum-seekers. How can they split this family apart?"

Dogan's brother, Deniz, also expressed shock and anger.

"I thought (Japan) was a democratic country," Deniz said. "But I no longer think so."

Although no official reason was given for taking Dogan away, the bureau seems to be following a familiar pattern, according to lawyer Takeshi Ohashi.

The Immigration Bureau "did say, however, that (it) would not deport (Dogan) immediately," Ohashi said. "But (the bureau) was following prior examples of detaining a person after losing the first trial" regarding a revocation lawsuit for being denied refugee status.

On Feb. 25, the Tokyo District Court dismissed lawsuits filed by Dogan and three other Kurdish asylum-seekers over the revocation of the Justice Ministry's decision to deny them refugee status. All four have appealed to the Tokyo High Court. Dogan arrived in Japan from Turkey in 1999 and has been seeking asylum for fear of persecution due to ethnic and religious reasons. His application was denied in 2000, and he was slapped with a deportation order in 2002.

To prevent Dogan from being deported back to Turkey, lawyer Ohashi said he would file a request Tuesday for a court order to stop deportation procedures. 


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