HDP deputy raises concerns over sexual abuse in Turkish refugee camp

HDP deputy raises concerns over sexual abuse in Turkish refugee camp

Emine Kart - ANKARA
HDP deputy raises concerns over sexual abuse in Turkish refugee camp

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The statements of a Turkish cleaner at a camp for Syrian refugees, who was sentenced to 96 years in jail for sexually abusing boys, has strengthened concerns that the scope of abuse at the camp is much wider, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy has said, filing a second parliamentary question to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım over the statements.

In a question filed on June 6, HDP Istanbul deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu recalled that the 29-year-old cleaner, identified only by the initials E.E., was sentenced last week to 96 years in prison for 12 separate crimes of harassment, rape and unlawfully restricting the freedom of another person.

“However, statements in the petition that E.E. submitted to the court have strengthened concerns that the extent of the abuse is much bigger and that it involved multiple people,” Kerestecioğlu said.

“In his petition, E.E. said other abusers ‘want to lay all the blame for these abuse incidents in the camp on him, they twisted the facts because he didn’t know how to read and write and could not defend himself, a lot of supervisors and camp workers were involved in these incidents but he was afraid of exposing them out of fear that they would hurt his family,’” she added.

Kerestecioğlu also recalled that an official application to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), which is affiliated with the Prime Ministry, on May 18, by a delegation from the HDP, requesting an “observation visit” to the refugee camp in the district of Nizip, had been refused.  

“Many journalists and independent human rights organizations have also stated that they have not been let in the camp,” she said.

“The refusal of all the applications that were submitted to monitor the refugee camps, including the Nizip camp, has called the conditions of the camp into question. Respected human rights organizations like Amnesty International have made statements that they find this posture of the government concerning. The Gaziantep-Kilis Chamber of Medicine, which was able to enter the Nizip camp and publish a report about the condition of refugees and public health, shared observations that support these concerns. It also pointed out the risks of viral and sexual diseases, sexual violence aimed at women, child abuse and early marriage,” Kerestecioğlu stated.

She addressed 10 questions to Prime Minister Yıldırım on whether any investigation has been launched into the case, if so at what stage the investigation is now at, whether he planned to inform the public about the current phase of the investigation, and whether E.E.’s claims in his petition have been probed by AFAD.