Update 29/5/16: At some point while I was away over the last week I received a written acknowledgement from the public information service of the European Council, but it still wasn't exactly a response to the petition:
Update 11/5/16: I received acknowledgement today from the European Council Public Information Service that the petition had been received and ‘duly noted’. It's not exactly the response I was hoping for (“We will stop deporting people immediately”), but I think it's all I realistically expected:
Update 21/4/16: The letter and petition signatories have been delivered to the European Council building in Brussels. I've also emailed the letter and signatures to the President's press officer who I hope will pass it on.
Today I wrote to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany, ahead of their visit to Gaziantep in Turkey on 23 April. As well as the letter, I printed all signatures to the petition I started calling on the European Council to stop deporting people en masse to Turkey. This was signed by over 800 people as of the time of posting, and amounted to over 20 pages!
As well as posting the letter and signatures I will email a copy to President Tusk and Chancellor Merkel in the hope that they see the petition before their visit to Turkey.
The letter is reproduced below, or you can read the transcript, or you can download the original pdf.
Dear President Tusk and Chancellor Merkel,
I am writing to you on behalf of myself and hundreds of European and global citizens ahead of your visit to Gaziantep, Turkey on Saturday 23 April 2016.
Many of the people I am writing on behalf of I have never met, and we no doubt share many diverse political opinions, perspectives, and experiences.
Where we stand unanimously is in our abhorrence of the way Europe, under the direction of the European Council, is deporting human beings en masse to Turkey [[link to petition](https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/European_Council_Stop_deporting_human_ beings_from_Europe/)].
Europe prides itself on being enlightened, civilised, and humane. What we are doing now to some of the most exploited and vulnerable human beings on the planet is ignorant, uncivilised, and inhumane.
These deportations may be illegal [link to article]—even according to the UN secretary general's special representative for international migration and
development—if their asylum claims are not being assessed satisfactorily on an individual basis. There is growing concern and evidence that Turkey is not a safe third country for those returned there. Human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, and the United Nations are concerned that those who are recently deported:
- have not had their asylum applications adequately assessed on an individual basis,
- do not have access to adequate accommodation, healthcare, and education,
- have no, or very few, employment rights in Turkey,
- are at risk of further violence, harassment, and onward deportation.
As well as the likely legal issues, we believe that using human beings in a transaction between countries is highly immoral and deplorable. Finally, the decision of the European Council to deport all ‘irregular migrants’ from Turkey to the EU back to Turkey is potentially causing refugees to choose more unsafe routes into Europe, putting further lives at risk.
For these reasons we, the undersigned, call on you to immediately cease deportations to Turkey for any human being arriving in Europe, in line with their human rights.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I look forward to your reply.
Phil Mike Jones
encl: Full list of signatories to petition
Below is the receipt for the petition. I think the clerk at the post office thought I'd lost the plot when he saw who it was addressed to, but to be fair he didn't say anything and posted it for me anyway!