Visit to Apaydın camp turns into political row
Syrian refugees and their children stage a demonsration against the Syrian president at the Reyhanli refugee Camp in Hatay. AFP photo
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which had been keen to send a group to a refugee camp that is host to Syrian military defectors, has suddenly lost its appetite for such a visit.
The U-turn came after the Parliamentary Human Rights Examination Commission was granted permission to visit the Apaydın camp by the Foreign Ministry, with the CHP claiming that the Foreign Ministry does not have the constitutional authority to give permission to lawmakers in such a way. “The armed military components have now been covered up,”
CHP Deputy Chair Haluk Koç claimed yesterday, adding that such camouflage meant it had become possible for such permission to be granted. “It should not be forgotten that according to Article 92 of the Constitution, it is only Parliament that has the authority to grant permission to the presence of foreign armed components in Turkey. This is an obvious violation of the Constitution, and the response for such an audacious move is the Supreme Court,” Koç said in a written statement.
Koç’s words echoed those of CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. “If Turkey is a state of law, all decisions should be lawful. Some armed men are being trained within Turkey to attack another country. Who can consider this to be lawful? If the principle of the state of law becomes controversial, Turkey’s reputation will be overshadowed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Aug. 29, speaking to a group of journalists on board a plane en route from Ankara to Cape Town, South Africa, to attend the Socialist International (SI) congress.
Criticism from MHP
Nevertheless, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has criticized the CHP’s U-turn, labeling their change of attitude as “inappropriate.”
“Turkey is passing through a very sensitive process. I find the CHP’s decision not to send its lawmakers in the Human Rights Commission on this visit inappropriate. Members of the Human Rights Commission from the MHP will attend the visit,” Bahçeli said in a press conference in Istanbul on Sept. 1.
Parliament’s Human Rights Examination Commission applied to the Foreign Ministry for permission to visit the Apaydın refugee camp, after an earlier request by a group of CHP lawmakers to visit the camp was rejected by the Hatay governor’s office on Aug. 26. The commission’s chair, Ayhan Sefer Üstün of the AKP, announced on Aug. 31 that the commission would visit the Apaydın camp on Sept. 4.
CHP lawmaker Levent Gök said on Saturday that they would not “be a part of this play,” suggesting that the camp had been “rearranged” for the Parliamentary commission. “They did not allow us to visit last week. Now, after one week, they removed all evidence in the camp and made it ready for the commission’s visit. We cannot accept this. We will not be a part of this play. We are not going to Apaydın camp for this reason,” Gök told Anatolia news agency on Sept. 1.