Refugee Iranian Photojournalist In Turkish Security Prison
The Turkish authorities arrested Hossein Salmanzadeh, an Iranian photojournalist and a refugee in Turkey, on April 26 and have detained him inside the Ankara Security Police Detention Center, Javad Moghimi Parsa told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. According to Javad Moghimi, Salmanzadeh’s close friend and former colleague, Salmanzadeh embarked on a dry hunger strike for five days to protest his arrest and his detention inside the Ankara Security Detention Center.
In a short phone conversation with Hossein Salmanzadeh inside the detention center, he told the Campaign that he ended his hunger strike on Saturday, May 4. Salmanzadeh told the Campaign that it is possible that his arrest could be related to his absence in Nevshehir, the location where he was assigned for residence as a refugee, and his presence in Ankara. According to Turkish laws, any movement from an assigned location must only take place with permission. Salmanzadeh said, however, the penalty for such violations is usually cash fines and such a long detention for this violation is unprecedented. Hossein Salmanzadeh told the Campaign that during the last year, he has been sent messages from the Iranian government to return to Iran, and this matter has put additional pressure on him. “On the first days of my arrest, there were a lot more arrestees here who were all in this detention center for illegal presence or entry into Turkey, but in one round, 60 Afghanis were deported, and at the present, 27 individuals from different countries such as Chechnya, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and so on, are being held here, but, I am the only person here who has a United Nations refugee acceptance letter, and I don’t understand why they are keeping me here,” Salmanzadeh told the Campaign. In this regard, as a UN-documented refugee, the detention of Hossein Salmanzadeh in a security prison in Turkey seems to be a questionable act.
“I talked to Hossein Salmanzadeh today [Saturday, May 4]. Hossein was not in good shape at all. He was in a bad psychological state. He was on hunger strike for five days, and has been kept among deportees and individuals who have entered Turkey illegally for the seven to eight days he has been in prison. His physical and mental strength had deteriorated and he was in a very bad state. A mutual friend had gone to visit Hossein and gave me the telephone number of the detention center, and I called him. Hossein’s voice was trembling and he had no strength to talk,” Javad Moghimi Parsa told the Campaign.
Hossein Salmanzadeh, a Fars News Agency’s photographer, exited Iran after his name was revealed as the photographer who took pictures of the street protests following the 2009 Iranian election and sent them to news agencies outside Iran. He has been registered and accepted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, and is currently awaiting determination of his future country of residence. Initially, Hossein Salmanzadeh’s case was assigned to the United States by the UN, but after several months of residence in the US, he returned to Turkey for personal reasons and again presented himself to the UNHCR, and his request for change of settlement country was accepted. Salmanzadeh is now awaiting determination of his settlement country.
“I was in contact with Hossein a few days before his arrest,” Delbar Tavakoli, another one of Hossein Salmanzadeh’s friends, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “He told me that the UN in Turkey had accepted his case file, and that he was waiting to be assigned to a country. He said he had spoken to the UN authorities several times over the past few months about this matter and that he protested the tardiness in forwarding his case file to a destination country,” said Tavakoli. “Hossein told me several times that the reason for his return to Turkey was the he was afflicted with depression in the United States, which of course I could observe myself that he did not have a balanced mental state. Hossein said that because he did not have a job and because of the mental pressure, he returned to Turkey in the hopes that in Europe he would live in a busier environment and that he would escape depression and find employment there,” Delbar Tavakoli told the Campaign.