Commission denies rumors of militant training camp at Apaydın
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
DHA PhotoThe Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission has visited the Apaydın camp near the Syrian border and dismissed claims that army defectors from Syria were receiving military training there.
“We saw that this camp is no different from other camps we have seen,” Ayhan Sefer Üstün, head of the commission, said. “Eighty percent of those in the camp are women and children. Therefore, it’s not possible to conduct any other operations here.”
The number of people staying in the camp is 2,764, Üstün said. “Approximately 300 of them are soldiers, police officers, and public servants. Nearly 80 percent of them are women and children, so it would be impossible to carry out other tasks here; the physical condition of the camp is not suitable for this. However, we are continuing to observe here.”
The commission also visited one of the camp’s tent shelters, and asked questions of Syrian refugees at the camp.
One member of the commission, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Atilla Kaya, asked if the rumors that Syrian rebels go back to Syria to fight against the Syrian government and later return to the camp are true. “It’s out of the question,” the Syrian refugees said. Asked whether they have had the opportunity to follow the latest clashes in Syria, refugees said, “We have no opportunity to communicate. We can only learn what is in the press or on television.”
The government gave the green light for the lawmakers to visit the camp, which had long been off-limits to journalists and opposition lawmakers. The trip was boycotted by the main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP. The government has repeatedly said that the camp has been operating under U.N. rules, and that it was required to separate civilians from military defectors in the camps, in line with relevant legislation.
In Sivas, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu again charged that the camp has been providing military training. “You train foreign soldiers that terrorize another country in this camp. It is impossible to accept this situation,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu asserted that Apaydın Camp in Hatay is illegal and indicated that the camp is not in line with international law. “Ministers have also stated that this is a military camp. Parliamentarians wanted to get into the camp but they couldn’t. Why can’t Turkish parliamentarians get into a camp on land belonging to the Turkish Republic?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Meanwhile, some 100,000 refugees fled Syria in August, by far the highest monthly total since the hostilities began, the U.N. refugee agency said yesterday.
The tide of people fleeing the civil war, a figure that includes both refugees who are registered and those awaiting registration with the Geneva-based U.N. refugee agency, underscores the intensifying violence between the regime of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and the armed anti-government groups. The August total represents more than 40 percent of the 234,368 Syrian refugees who, as of the last count on Sept. 2, had fled for surrounding countries since the uprising began 17 months ago.
“If you do the math, it’s quite an astonishing number,” U.N. refugee agency spokesman Melissa Fleming told reporters at the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva. “And it points to a significant escalation in refugee movement and people seeking asylum, and probably points to a very precarious and violent situation inside the country.”