This is a testimony from an individual CAGE assisted whilst he was detained in Turkey, he was held arbitrarily for over 4 weeks. CAGE worked with him closely and liaised on his behalf with his family, NGOs and lawyers in order to secure his release.
My name is not Salim but it is important for me that I use this name to protect my identity. I've recently been released from a Turkish prison after I was accused of violating the Turkish border. Like any country the Turks have to protect their border, especially when there’s a war going on next door. I was one of the few that happened to be arrested and held for a time.
You see, I am from the west and I love my religion of Islam, it was for this reason I could not call my embassy for help as it would have made my case significantly worse. I was at the border to meet a friend who was suffering in Syria. To be fair, the Turkish authorities offered me an opportunity to contact my embassy, but I'm pretty sure they know that it was best I take my chances with them rather than with the authorities in my country. Visions of being on a no-fly list, stress positions, and other images danced in my mind. My real crime was helping the Muslims.
As the days turned to weeks I started to wonder what would happen next. Each time the gate would open I didn't know if I should celebrate or run and hide. I wondered who would come and help me. I didn't know anyone who was in a position of influence and even if I did they would probably be afraid to help me as they would probably lose their "squeaky clean" image by being associated with someone like me.
Sometime later I remembered I met one of the brothers at CAGE in London. I wasn't sure what I thought they could do but I had no one to call on except Allah and then after Him, those at CAGE. They immediately understood my situation and that alone made me feel better. No one likes to show a wound to a doctor and the doctor screams out "Oh! I don't see how you're still alive mate!" The patient needs to feel the doctor understands. In my case I felt that CAGE understood. They immediately began making phone calls and even dispatching a lawyer to research my case. I was shocked to hear that I was not officially charged with a crime! If not for CAGE I would never have known that. This information helped me to shape my next move as I was led to believe that they were holding me for nearly 2 months for some criminal offence that they never made clear!
The Turkish government have helped the Syrians on so many levels most people will never know. This is why I was shocked at my detention; though I came to later realise that the Turks were just doing their job and protecting their border. Alhamdulillaah (praise be to God) CAGE helped me out of that prison and helped me to get back to living a normal life. For that I am grateful to Allah and then after Allah to CAGE.
If you know anyone in your community who is being or has been subjected to harrassment, abuse and arbitrary detention, encourage them to come forward and speak with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0207 377 6700.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)