Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has promised to send Syrians who took refuge in Turkey fleeing the civil war in their homeland back to Syria if his party comes to power.
“Under our rule, we will come to terms with our Syrian guests and see them off to their homeland in two years’ time. This will be one of the most important priorities of our government. Our plans and programs are ready. I wanted to leave this video here as an assurance for this,” Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted on Friday, posting a short video about the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
İktidarımızda Suriyeli misafirlerimizle helalleşip iki yılda memleketlerine uğurlayacağız. Bu iktidarımızın en önemli beş önceliğinden biridir. Plan ve programlarımız hazır. Bu video da bunun taahhüdü olarak burada dursun istedim. pic.twitter.com/5kE4csutCo
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) July 16, 2021
In the video Kılıçdaroğlu said there are around 3.6 million refugees in Turkey according to official figures and that an increasing number of Turks are becoming uneasy about their presence because there are even more Syrians than Turks in some provinces bordering Syria. He said Turkish people who cannot find jobs or make ends meet cite the presence of Syrian refugees as the reason for their economic situation because of the cheap labor force they provide in the Turkish job market.
“In the future we as a society may face more serious complications. And we have to solve this problem. They [the ruling Justice and Development Party] have been unable to solve it. They have neither the power nor the ability to do it. But we will,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that his remarks should not be interpreted as racism.
According to multeciler.org, there were 3,684,412 Syrians, of which 1,746,253 are aged 0-18, under temporary protection in Turkey as of June 23.
Syrian refugees in Turkey have been increasingly targeted by hate speech and hate crimes and are blamed for many of Turkey’s social and economic troubles.
According to the “Hate Speech and Discriminatory Discourse in Media 2019 Report,” published by the Hrant Dink Foundation, Syrian refugees in Turkey were the second most targeted group in the Turkish media, with 760 hate speech items.
The report states they were systematically coded as criminals, murderers and thieves who posed imminent security problems including terrorism. Syrians were also represented in the media as the reason for the current adverse economic situation in Turkey and rising unemployment numbers.
Syrians have been fleeing across the border since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.