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Kılıçdaroğlu harshens rhetoric, says 10 million refugees need to be urgently expelled from Turkey

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In an apparent bid to woo nationalist voters, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the soft-spoken main opposition leader and presidential candidate, has stepped up his rhetoric and called for the urgent expulsion of “10 million refugees” in the country.

Kılıçdaroğlu released a short video on Twitter on Wednesday titled “Decide for Turkey,” in which he spoke passionately about why the Turkish people should vote for him in a runoff to be held in late May.

Turkey is forced to hold the runoff since Kılıçdaroğlu and his main rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, could not manage to exceed the 50 percent threshold in the presidential election held on May 14.

According to preliminary unofficial results, while Kılıçdaroğlu received 44.8 percent of the nationwide vote, the support for Erdoğan stood at 49.5 percent.

Although there are currently claims about rigging in the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections, unofficial results show there has been an increase in the vote of nationalist and ultranationalist parties.

In the video Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of failing to protect Turkey’s borders, which he described as the “honor” of the country and allowing an uncontrolled refugee flow into the country.

He said he would not allow the 10 million refugees to grow into 30 million in the future and threaten Turkey’s future.

“I am appealing to everyone. We didn’t just find our homeland on the street. We will not leave it to someone who has allowed 10 million refugees uncontrolled entry,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, adding that they need to urgently be expelled from the country.

Turkey hosts nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled civil war and were registered under temporary protection as of April 2023, according to official figures.

Refugees in Turkey are frequently targeted by Turkish politicians, who hold them responsible for the social and economic problems in the country.

During his election campaign, Kılıçdaroğlu many times talked about the need to send Syrian refugees back home, saying that Turkey’s refugee issue wasn’t a problem of “race” but of “resources.”

Despite calls from Turkey’s opposition parties and the Turkish government’s policies, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in September that Syria was not safe for refugees to return to.

The commission said it continued to document serious violations of human rights and that arbitrary detention and torture remained systematic in government-controlled areas.

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