Government, opposition tension grows with visit to Syria

Government, opposition tension grows with visit to Syria

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Government, opposition tension grows with visit to Syria

Officials inspect a car bomb explosion site in Damascus. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry does not advise lawmakers to travel to Syria. REUTERS photo

Parliament’s Human Rights Commission set to pay a visit to Syria in the absence of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies in early July to observe the situation in the turmoil-hit country, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned. The Foreign Ministry did not advise lawmakers to travel to Syria due to poor security conditions.

Opposition members of the commission decided to visit Syria by their own efforts after Commission Chair Ayhan Sefer Üstün of the AKP rejected the proposal for all members to visit the country, Refik Eryılmaz, a commission member from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said.

Closer look at Syria
Human Rights Commission members from the CHP, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) proposed in April the formation of a sub-commission to examine the circumstances in Syria in the extent of human rights. They also suggested an on-site visit to the unrest-hit country to take a closer look at developments. The commission chair, however, rejected the proposal after talks with the foreign ministry on the grounds of life safety issues.

Speaking to the Daily News, Eryılmaz said their main objective was to observe “the extents of the reality” in Syria. “Since there are thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey and we are hearing about massacres in Syria, then let us go and observe the situation there, that was what we proposed. But the commission chair spurned our bid. Apparently they are reluctant to face up to the truth [about Syria]. They do know what is happening there in fact, but they turn a blind eye,” Eryılmaz said.

Opposition members of the Human Rights commission as well as a number of independent deputies will be in the Turkish delegation for a visit, Eryılmaz said adding that they will seek meetings with some Syrian opposition groups who boycotted the elections there. They will also seek an appointment from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked whether they would visit the Syrian opposition strongholds such as Hama and Homs, Eryılmaz said that they would have considered such visits, should the situation not have been so risky for them. “We aim to examine the conditions in Syria in terms of human rights. We will seek how a solution could be possible in Syria without a conflict, civil-war or military intervention. We are on the side of peace, not on the side of war,” he said.