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Family Safety in North Cyprus
March 6, 2014 permalink
North Cyprus, a territory created by Turkish military intervention in 1974, is recognized only by Turkey. Consequently, it has no extradition treaties with other countries and provides a refuge for parents to raise their children when menaced by child protection agencies. The case of parents Yunus Chhatbar and Safiya Reheman is enclosed.
Couple fled as they feared son would be taken away
A young couple fled abroad fearing social workers were trying to take their son away and put him up for adoption, a court has heard.
Yunus Chhatbar and Safiya Reheman flew to Northern Cyprus last October as they feared Leicester City Council officials wanted to take away their son, Abdurrahman, now nine months old.
After they left their home in Northfields, the couple were at the centre of an international alert with their names and photos placed on the missing persons' section of the Interpol website.
A hearing of the Family Division of the High Court in London, called for by the city council, took place on Friday.
At the hearing, Mr Chhatbar, 29, told the judge via videolink that they had bought a "one-way ticket" to Northern Cyprus, which has broken away from Cyprus and has no extradition treaty with Britain.
The couple renew their 90-day visitors' visas by going to the border with Cyprus and getting their papers stamped without leaving the safety of Northern Cyprus. They can carry on doing this indefinitely, they say.
Social workers argue that Abdurrahman, known as Momo, must be returned to the UK, where he is still "habitually resident" because of his parents' social and family links.
The judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, said the couple, who met two years ago, could be breaking the law by refusing to bring their child back.
Financial adviser Mr Chhatbar and travel agent Miss Reheman, 19, fled after a relative made an allegation to social services that Mr Chhatbar had a violent past.
It is a claim the couple vigorously deny.
Speaking from Northern Cyprus, Miss Reheman said: "The social workers said that if I stayed with Yunus they would take our newborn son into care and get him adopted in less than four months.
"I was scared they would take Momo so we decided to make the move to Northern Cyprus.
"A few days later, the social services found out we had gone. They went to the family court and were granted orders to recover Momo, and make him a ward of court without our knowledge.
"It means the state officially became his 'parents' and we were being treated like our own baby's abductors.
"We were horrified when we found out our son's picture was plastered all over the Interpol website alongside criminals, terrorists and murderers who are on the run.
"We have been forced to live like fugitives, but we cannot let them take our son."
Mr Chhatbar said: "We want to settle here so Momo is safe with us forever."
Another hearing is scheduled for April.
Source: Leicester Mercury