Turkish children face unjust practices in Europe: Report
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The government recently launched a campaign to retrieve Turkish children in European countries who were taken away from their parents and given to Christian couples. AA photoThousands of Turkish children in Germany and the Netherlands have been subjected to unjust practices by youth bureaus and were taken away from their families, according to a report by Parliament’s Human Rights Inquiry Commission.
“This is not the matter of youth bureaus, it is a matter of culture and belief. The main objective of Turkish children being taken away from their families is to prevent them from being raised in line with certain cultural and religious values,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker İhsan Şener said Oct. 24.
“Youth bureaus have been a tool for implementing a well-refined assimilation policy in certain European countries,” said another AKP lawmaker, Mehmet Metiner.
The remarks came as the Commission debated the examination report concerning the practices of youth departments in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, which the Commission said took Turkish children away from their families.
The report was prepared following the commission members’ visits to the three countries to examine complaints that Turkish children were being taken from their families and given to foster families or sent to children’s homes unjustly.
The report suggested that the children should be given to their relatives or foster families with a similar culture and lifestyle, stressing that the main priority of the youth bureaus should be the "protection of family unity."
Turkey recently launched a campaign to retrieve Turkish children in European countries who were taken from their parents and given to Christian couples.
The issue hit the headlines when 9-year-old Yunus, who was taken from his parents at the age of six months after his parents allegedly dropped him on the ground, was placed under the care of a lesbian couple in the Netherlands earlier this year.
Children can be taken from their families due to claims of abuse, domestic violence and maltreatment or due to financial matters by youth bureaus without any court ruling, the report stated, adding that a family was only able to see their children months after they had been taken away.
Youth bureaus take action upon complaints from the police, municipal institutions, teachers or neighbors, which is a problematic situation according to the report.
‘Empire of fear’
Neighbors can file complaints at youth bureaus when they hear an argument or teachers can file complaints when children do not behave well in school, and children are taken from their families following these complaints, it added.
“Youth bureaus have become an empire of fear for some migrant families. We heard that a family in Germany took their children to Turkey when a teacher called and informed them about the child’s little interest in classes. This shows the Turkish families’ fear of youth bureaus,” Şener said.
However, the report does praise the practices of Belgian youth bureaus, saying there are no complaints from the Turkish community in Belgium over the foster family system.
Youth bureaus in the Netherlands and Germany, on the other hand, take children from their families for “trivial reasons,” according to the report, which claims that although there may be close relatives who could take care of children taken away from their parents, the authorities do not take this into consideration.