Journalist becomes third Turkish Cypriot citizen denied entry to Turkey

The head of the Turkish Cypriot union Basın-Sen, Ali Kişmir, has been the third Turkish Cypriot citizen who has been denied entry to Turkey in recent months. The move against Kişmir has drawn severe criticism, with opposition Turkish Cypriot politicians calling on President Ersin Tatar to protect his citizens.

Nikolaos Stelya / DUVAR 

The list of Turkish Cypriot citizens banned from entering Turkey has been growing with the latest move against Ali Kişmir, the chairman of the Press Trade Union (Basın-Sen).

After a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in Croatia, Kişmir on Oct. 10 flew to Istanbul, from where he was planning to go to Turkish Cyprus. 

At the Istanbul Airport, Turkish officials told him that his entry into Turkey was not allowed and transferred the journalist to an area for deportation. After a few hours, they deported him to Turkish Cyprus, where the journalist said that he would take the issue to the judiciary.

“My picture was taken and my fingerprints were taken. I was treated like a terrorist,” Kişmir said on his return to Turkish Cyprus.

Kişmir is the third person banned from entering Turkey recently, after Ali Bizden, the press and communications coordinator of former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, and author Dr. Ahmet Cavit An.

Among the issues discussed at the EFJ meeting was also Turkey's violation of freedom of expression, according to information received by Gazete Duvar.

The deportation of Kişmir has led to an outcry among intellectuals and opposition politicians in Turkish Cyprus.

“The classification of people according to their political opinions, the discriminatory policies such as the division of society are not things that Turkish Cypriots are accustomed to,” said the main opposition left-wing CTP said.

CTP Turfan Erhürman slammed the Turkish Cypriot government and President Ersin Tatar for failing to release a statement with regards to recent moves by Turkey. “Are you aware that you have to make an immediate statement, without delaying any further, with regards to this issue?”

Kudret Özersay, the head of the second-largest opposition People’s Party (HP), said that the Turkish Cypriot government needs to look into if Ankara has prepared a list of Turkish Cypriot politicians and press workers banning them from entering Turkey on the grounds of “national security,” as has been reported before.

“We do not yet know what is the reason for Turkey not to give entry permission to Kişmir, but if he has been exposed to this behavior due to his previous duty or political opinion, as has been alleged, this is not right in terms of democracy,” Özersay said. 

Turkish Cypriot Journalists Association (KTGB) said the move against Kişmir was “a coup against freedom of the press and a serious step towards creating a state of fear.” The association asked Turkish authorities to reveal its list of “banned” Turkish Cypriot individuals and announce the official reason behind this list.

Following the backlash, Tatar released a statement late on Oct. 10, arguing that “every country has the right to not allow entry to foreign nationals on the grounds of security when faced with threats and insults.” “One of those who knows this best is CTP chair Tufan Erhürman, who served as a prime minister of the Turkish Cyprus,” he said.