The issue of renewing my daughter’s passport always kept my mind busy as the expiry date of her passport drew closer.
We never had a chance to even talk to the officials in the Turkish Embassy in Dhaka, as the members and the staff of the International Turkish Hope School had been denied access at the gates.
All the teachers who attempted to renew their kids’ passports were provided with the same common answer at the entrances of the embassy building: “Sorry, we have been ordered from Ankara not to issue any document including the passports for the teachers working at Turkish School. The only document, we can issue is a temporary travel document that would only take you to Turkey.”
We all have been scared to visit our own country, once we used to long for seeing it once or twice in a year. The failed coup attempt on 15th July 2016 has dramatically changed the lives of millions in Turkey and its negative impact crossed the borders and began harming the lives of others living abroad.
We also have been mentally disturbed when we have been informed about each incident regarding the matter. The untimely departure of the qualified teaching staff because of the purposeful discrimination of the Turkish Embassy was really a painful experience. We all have been deprived of our basic citizenship rights; namely a right to ID &Passport.
Evidently, things have started with the press conference right after the coup attempt. The Ambassador claimed a link between the school and the coup plotters and the Embassy stopped providing citizenship services to the teachers of the school.
We were helpless in guiding the staff in this regard and told them to take their own decisions in order to avoid further legality complications in the country.
Under such circumstances, I finally made up my mind and decided to apply for the renewal of my daughter’s passport in Germany. I thought that the Turkish Embassies couldn’t act in a discriminating manner in Europe, where the rule of law prevails. Again, huge number of Turkish citizens receiving the citizenship services also influenced my decision in choosing Germany. With these facts in mind, and also with the scope of hiding my identity, we have started our journey and reached the Turkish Consulate in Germany according to the appointment.
Following an ID check over diaphone and body check at the entrance gate, we have only been allowed to the premises. We have been guided into the waiting room located in the second floor. The passport-issuing officer called our name and asked us to present the required documents. He later asked me to show the current passport of my daughter as well. I said that it is not with me now. He responded “I am sorry I can’t proceed unless I see the existing passport.” I fetched her passport from the car and shown it to the officer. Upon seeing this, he signed the document and asked me to pay the passport renewal fee at the payment counter on the ground floor.
Interestingly, he followed me to the ground floor and entered into the payment section of the consulate. When he was inside the room, I have been asked by another official to go upstairs and wait for the passport-issuing officer in his room. This strange request raised my doubts regarding the possibility of obtaining a passport for my daughter.
Eventually, he came out and said, “ Father will come with me and the rest of the family will stay here.” While stepping up the stairs, he directly said “Since your name is in our list, I will confiscate all your passports”. I was in an utter shock on hearing this. I said to him; “this is the first time someone is telling me that my passports are cancelled”.
Immediately, I have changed my direction and walked to the electronic gates of the premises. I heard the loud order “Lock the doors”. They locked both the exit and entry gates.
The passport-issuing officer reiterated again “handover your passports otherwise police officers will take it forcefully”.
Previously, I have listened so many stories of this type and thought that I should somehow avoid the confiscation of my passports.
We just started inquiring about the reasons behind their stance against us.
Why us? What would you do with these invalid passports? What would happen to us?
We will pack you to Turkey!!!
What might be the wrongdoing of a 7-year-old girl?
He replied: But, her father is you, implying that she is also not innocent because of her dependency to me. I have never read and seen such approach of hostility in my life. Such rule has never been seen in any culture, religion and society.
Afterwards, I directly told my wife to follow their instructions; otherwise we would end up in jail.
My wife reacted instantly to my idea and said a strong NO, I will never handover my daughter’s passport to them.
Again, I asked her to leave if she is not feeling comfortable; I received a similar response: I will stay with you.
Since we argued visibly, they thought that I am going to cooperate with them. Then, I requested them to allow my wife and kids stating that the passport is with me and your issue is also with me. Seeing my cooperative attitude, they allowed them out.
They repeatedly asked me to enter into the Embassy building in order to confiscate the passport. Police officers started insulting me with the incomprehensible words: traitor, FETO, Coup plotter etc.
I said to them I am not travelling to Turkey more than a year, what kind of relationship you imagine between I and the coup, as I was not in Turkey.
“Shut up traitor, we can show you how we treat the traitors, you remember the way we slain the throat of all those during the coup”.
At one stage of this aggressive harassment, I have thrown my daughter’s passport through the bars of the boundary wall.
Seeing this, they all turned into mad. Three of them attacked me, hit my back to the bars and I fell down with these blows. Later, I have found scratches on my neck and shoulder; my t-shirt was torn on the neck, and the trouser on the knee. I never imagined that I would be beaten up mercilessly by fanatic officers.
I felt sorry about the misrepresentation of my country with these cruel people. They cant be the behavior of any governmental officers under normal circumstances.
I immediately requested my friend waiting outside to call the German press and said to him “I want the German people to see this cruelty in the heart of Europe. They would kill us unless they see someone is interrupting them.”
Distressingly, it all happened in front of German police officers waiting at the opposite side of the road facing the Embassy gate. My friend started talking to them and called his friends for suggestions.
Upon seeing this, the passport issuing officer went inside and came with a statement:
If you want you can leave now.
Luckily, I came out and run to the German Police officers. This 20 minutes struggle at the Turkish Consulate changed my life entirely. I was hoping to return to the country where I worked with the newly issued passport. But, it never happened.
German police officers offered me an ambulance for my visible injuries.
It was a shocking incident; I noticed that my 7-year-old daughter was also traumatized. Yes, I was beaten up in front of my wife and daughters for working in an international school.
This has left me no option other than seeking an asylum in a European country in order to avoid further complications regarding my future legality in another country. Upon this incident, I came to know an agreement called Dublin and moved to my first of point of entry to the Europe as per the treaty.
While penning down my story in my 20m2 room at the reception center, once again, I felt fortunate for being together with my family though we lost our unique friends and working environment. I also considered myself as a privileged man for not being in the prisons of my own country, where the torture become a norm under the existing judiciary system.
Most difficult part of this process is to attempt explaining the endless questions of my little daughter. Apparently, her little heart and brain cannot weigh the gravity of the matter.
When am I going to see my friends? You promised me to buy a bike on seeing my report card. When will you buy it? When are we going to return to our home and so many others?
At the moment, I am maybe not able to provide satisfactory answers to these complicated questions, but I hope that she will one day understand our concern regarding the safety of our family.