Turkey Given Notice on Ill-treatment

Turkey Given Notice on Ill-treatment Turkey Given Notice on Ill-treatment

Tourism officials in Tehran have criticized the mistreatment of some Iranian tourists by Turkish law enforcement and asked Ankara to “change its attitude toward Iranian nationals.”

Morteza Rahmani Movahed, tourism deputy at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, told ISNA that an Iranian delegation brought up the subject during the 25th Joint Iran-Turkey Economic Commission (April 7-9) held in the neighboring country.

“We voiced our concern with their mistreatment of Iranian tourists and told TURSAB (the association of Turkish travel agents) to up its game if it wants to strengthen tourism between the two countries,” Movahed added.

An increasing number of tourists traveling by land and air to Turkey have long complained about the unacceptable attitude and rude behavior of Turkish security officials at border crossings and airports, but Iranian officials hardly took notice.

In the past couple of years, Persian-language media outlets have also extensively covered the poor treatment of Iranian travelers by Turkish authorities.

Last year, Iranian passengers traveling from Tehran to Oslo missed their connecting flight in Istanbul because the Turkish airline took off after an eight-hour delay. Despite receiving assurances from the airline officials that they would soon board a plane to the Norwegian capital after arriving in Istanbul, it was revealed that the passenger had to wait for three days to board the next plane, according to Mehr News Agency.

This caused the passengers to protest at an Istanbul airport before plainclothes security personnel at the airport — who failed to identify themselves as law enforcement — attacked the passengers, many of whom were young women.

“We also told the Turkish Minister of Transport [Binali Yildrim] that Iran will not stand for mistreatment of its citizens at Turkish airports,” Movahed said, adding that Iran wants mutually respectable relations with the neighboring countries.

“Strengthening bilateral ties is our goal, but we have to voice our dismay with how our people are treated.”

  Boycott Campaign Jolts Officials

This is while Iranian officials failed to respond to people’s criticism of Turkish authorities for years, until a people-driven campaign calling for a boycott of travel to Turkey gained momentum in 2015. The campaign cited Turkey’s alleged support for the terrorist group Daesh, also known as ISIS and IS, as well as the mistreatment of Iranians at the hands of Turkish authorities as the reasons behind the boycott.

The movement made an impact as travel to Turkey during the Norouz holiday (March 20 – April 1) dropped by 10%, piling on the misery for Turkey’s ailing tourism industry which has been rocked by a series of bombings in that past few months prompting even the country’s allies, including the US, to issue travel warnings.

Russia, whose citizens made up 10% of inbound tourists to Turkey, banned all travel to the Mediterranean country following Ankara’s downing of a Russian fighter plane in November.

Not only did the peaceful campaign compel authorities to officially criticize Turkey’s mistreatment of Iranian tourists, but also forced the Ankara government to repeatedly express willingness to expand tourism ties with Tehran.