Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Friday detained
Kurdish asylum-seeker Erdal Dogan, his supporters
The 31-year-old asylum-seeker, who was making
preparations to move to Canada, visited the
immigration bureau in Minato Ward in the morning to
renew his provisional release, which must be renewed
each month on threat of detention.
But this time, Dogan's request was denied and he was
detained, his supporters said.
"We told the Justice Ministry that it was highly
likely that the Dogans would be able to move to
Canada," Fumio Azuma, leader of the support group,
told a news conference after Dogan was seized.
According to the support group, arrangements were
being made with the Canadian government for the
Dogans to move there, although they wanted to stay
in Japan if possible.
"Why would (the Japanese government) detain someone
as such? This is harassment," Azuma said.
The remaining Dogans include wife Meryem, 28, their
two small children, and Dogan's 27-year-old brother.
They and another Kurdish refugee family staged a
protest sit-in outside the United Nations University
building last summer.
But the father and his eldest son were deported back
to Turkey in January, despite being U.N.-designated
At the news conference, Meryem broke down in tears.
"I will never forget the pain the Japanese
government has caused us," she said. "We are
asylum-seekers. How can they split this family
Dogan's brother, Deniz, also expressed shock and
"I thought (Japan) was a democratic country," Deniz
said. "But I no longer think so."
Although no official reason was given for taking
Dogan away, the bureau seems to be following a
familiar pattern, according to lawyer Takeshi Ohashi.
The Immigration Bureau "did say, however, that (it)
would not deport (Dogan) immediately," Ohashi said.
"But (the bureau) was following prior examples of
detaining a person after losing the first trial"
regarding a revocation lawsuit for being denied
On Feb. 25, the Tokyo District Court dismissed
lawsuits filed by Dogan and three other Kurdish
asylum-seekers over the revocation of the Justice
Ministry's decision to deny them refugee status. All
four have appealed to the Tokyo High Court. Dogan
arrived in Japan from Turkey in 1999 and has been
seeking asylum for fear of persecution due to ethnic
and religious reasons. His application was denied in
2000, and he was slapped with a deportation order in
To prevent Dogan from being deported back to Turkey,
lawyer Ohashi said he would file a request Tuesday
for a court order to stop deportation procedures.