News photo
Kurdish Asylum-seeker Erdal Dogan –
is greeted by his family Friday at the Immigration
Bureau in Minato Ward, Tokyo, after renewing his provisional release.

Tension was high as he entered the Tokyo Immigration Bureau in Minato Ward after two other Kurdish asylum-seekers — Ahmet Kazankiran and his son Ramazan — were detained and quickly deported back to Turkey earlier this week.

Dogan and the Kazankirans staged a sit-in protest in front of United Nations University in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward during the summer over the government’s refusal to recognize them as refugees.

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Dogan said after his provisional release was renewed. ” I was sure they were going to detain me. I am so happy I have at least one more month.”

The Kazankirans were deported Tuesday despite being recognized as “mandate refugees” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The rest of their family, also likewise designated, also face deportation.

Dogan has no such status. Japan has been allowing him to live here under a provisional release, which is a temporary permit issued on humanitarian grounds. It must be renewed every month.

“Before the deportation (of the Kazankirans), I was concerned about the vulnerable state that I and my family are in,” Dogan said. “But I realize now that it doesn’t matter whether you are recognized as a mandate refugee or not — the Japanese government will send you back anyway.”

Dogan later appeared before a gathering of about 150 people at the offices of the members of the House of Councilors. It was attended by the five remaining members of the Kazankiran family, their supporters and members of Amnesty International.

Also present were 16 Diet members, including representatives from the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party.

SDP head Mizuho Fukushima strongly criticized the Foreign Ministry, saying that officials had concluded there was no longer any problems for Kurds in Turkey because a Kurd had been elected to the Turkish government.

“Just because there is a female Diet member in Japan, does that mean there is no sexual discrimination here?” she asked.

Toru Matsuoka, a member of the DPJ, said the deportation of the Kazankirans made him realize Japan has no regard for human rights.

Prime Minister Junichiro “Koizumi often uses the word ‘humanity,’ but I’ve realized that human rights does not exist in the term of humanity that he uses,” Matsuoka said.

Fumio Azuma, a leader of supporters for the two Kurd families, denounced the deportations.

“I think that what the Japanese government did to this family, who just wanted to live in peace, is a serious crime,” Azuma said.

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