KUALALUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia on Friday confirmed that it had deported a Turkish asylum seeker registered with the United Nations, along with his family, after police said he should not be in the country.
Rights groups have criticised Malaysia for deporting Arif Komis and his family to Turkey this week, saying they face the threat of human rights violations over Komis’ alleged membership in a Turkish “faith-based group”.
Komis, who taught chemistry at an international school in Kuala Lumpur, and his family were deported on the advice of the police, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said.
“They had proof that led to their view that he should not be in the country,” Mahathir told a news conference, without elaborating on the police reasons.
A member of Mahathir’s cabinet, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, later told Reuters that police had evidence to show that Komis “was involved” in terrorism.
The Malaysian arm of rights group Amnesty International said Komis was detained by police along with his family on Wednesday and deported to Turkey the next day.
“In deporting the Komis family, the Malaysian government has violated the international principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the transfer of anyone, in any manner whatsoever, to a place where they would be at real risk to their safety,” Amnesty official Shamini Darshni Kaliemutu said in a statement.
Mahathir said Malaysia was not aware of any risks faced by Komis or his family on their return.
“I don’t know about torture in Turkey. Are we going to accuse Turkey of torture? Do you have proof?” Mahathir said.
“He has a passport of Turkey, so you go back to Turkey.”
Over the years, Malaysia has arrested and deported Turkish citizens accused of having ties with the network of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric Ankara accuses of plotting a 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan.
Gulen, who is based in the United States, and his followers have denied plotting the coup.
Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the coup attempt.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and A. Ananthalakshmi; Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)