Refugee Voices – Kani From Turkey
Protecting the persecuted is a core American ideal. At Human Rights First, we help asylum seekers who fled persecution and violence navigate the complex U.S. legal system by matching them with high-quality pro bono attorneys. Explore Kani's inspiring journey from persecution to freedom.
Represented by Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Kani is a human rights activist from Turkey who has devoted his life to promoting the equal treatment of Kurdish people in Turkey and across the Middle East. While assisting Kurdish refugees to seek protection in the United States, he stepped forward as a spokesman and advocate for a free and peaceful Kurdistan. He contacted and lobbied members of the United States Congress to change U.S. policy towards the treatment of Kurds in Turkey. His efforts did not go unnoticed by the Turkish government, and, in an effort to silence him, two of his siblings were brutally tortured. After this, Kani realized that he and his family were not safe from persecution in Turkey and made the decision to seek asylum in the United States.
Kani’s case was assigned to a team of attorneys at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, led by Public Service Counsel, Karen Grisez. Fried Frank represented Kani before the immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. After years of hard work on the case, Kani was granted asylum and has started a new, successful life in the United States. He now leads the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) and remains one of the foremost experts in the United States on Kurdish issues.
WATCH KANI’S STORY
“IT’S A SWEET VICTORY. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE IT, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE DANGER IS SO REAL…I FEEL PROTECTED NOW THAT I HAVE ASYLUM”
HUMAN RIGHTS IN TURKEY
A largely Sunni Muslim people with their own language and culture, most Kurds live in the generally contiguous areas of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria.
In the early 20th century the Turkish government outlawed the Kurdish language and forbade Kurds to wear traditional Kurdish clothing in the cities. The government also encouraged the migration of Kurds to the cities in order to dilute their traditional ties to a nomadic and rural lifestyle.
Kurds have faced decades of repression and discrimination based on their ethnicity, persecution that continues today.
LAWYERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“[Karen Grisez] helped me stand on my feet. I owe my life to her. I owe my liberty to her.”
Human Rights First has worked with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP for more than twenty years. In that time, the firm has taken and won dozens of asylum cases and has provided immeasurable support for their clients, as well as for Human Rights First’s asylum program.
In 2004, Fried Frank’s Washington, D.C. office was honored with a Marvin Frankel Award for its outstanding contribution to Human Rights First’s asylum program.