Omar Souleyman faces deportation from Turkey

Singer Omar Souleyman, detained in Turkey on terror charges, is to be deported to Syria. The 55-year-old is being held in a refugee camp by order of the governor of Urfa. He is to be transferred to a deportation center on Friday.

The singer Omar Souleyman is threatened with deportation to Syria. The 55-year-old was almost deported from Turkey on Thursday. This was only prevented thanks to a lawyer from the chamber in Urfa, who was at the same time as Souleyman in the Office for Migration and intervened against the deportation.

Omar Souleyman was taken into custody on Wednesday during a raid by the Turkish military police (gendarmerie) at his home in the district of Karaköprü. He is accused of being a member of a "terrorist organization" - meaning the People's Defense Units (YPG). The Turkish authorities claim that Souleyman made positive comments about Abdullah Öcalan at a concert in Germany more than ten years ago. Muhammed Almasikh, the singer's son, assumes a "malicious denunciation" against his father.

After spending the night in the custody of the Provincial Gendarmerie Command, Omar Souleyman was transferred today to the Urfa Police Anti-Terror Center. During the interrogation, the prosecutor's office in charge of the case ordered a medical report on his fitness for detention. Following the examination, the singer was released, but immediately afterwards, on the instructions of the governor of the province, he was detained again with the aim of deportation. The reason given was that Omar Souleyman posed a "threat to public security”.

Currently, Omar Souleyman is being held in the refugee camp in Harran, which is monitored by the gendarmerie. The validity of his passport has been limited by order of the governor's office, and on Friday he is to be transferred to a deportation center in Malatya. The deportation decision has already been issued. If Omar Souleyman is deported to Syria, he could face torture and imprisonment. This is because Turkey is deporting people to a war zone – people seeking shelter and migrants who have been deported on terror charges are handed over to the Turkish-controlled "Euphrates Shield" militias under the umbrella of the mercenary association "Syrian National Army" (SNA), which commits war crimes and human rights violations in the Turkish occupation zone.

Who is Omar Souleyman?

Omar Souleyman, whose real name is Omar Almasikh, is an Arab and was born in 1966 in the city of Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ain) in northern Syria. Since 1994, he has been active as a wedding singer and is one of the best-known representatives of the dabke sound, wedding music in the Levant. He mainly sings about love and heartbreak, and he sings many of his songs in Kurdish. Most of his more than 500 records that have been released so far are so-called bootlegs.

Omar Souleyman has been living in Northern Kurdistan, mainly in Urfa, for around ten years. The province is directly opposite his birthplace, Serêkaniyê, which has been occupied by Turkey and its jihadist allies since October 2019. Omar Souleyman left his home in 2011, after the outbreak of the Syria crisis. He makes a living from a bakery he runs in Urfa. The bakery was opened two years ago and supports around 200 needy families every day, mainly refugees from Syria.