World Bulletin / News Desk
A report by the parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Commission has refuted claims previously raised by the country's main opposition party that the Apaydın refugee camp, which houses Syrian refugees, is being used as a site providing military training to Syrian defectors and soldiers.
The commission paid a visit to the camp in early September for a series of inspections at the camp to check whether the claims reflect reality. The visiting commission was composed of members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Members from the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) declined to join the visit.
On Tuesday, the commission released a report about its findings and impressions during the visit. The report clearly stated that Syrian refugees are not provided with military training at the camp. “The [visiting] commission witnessed that the entrance, the inside and the area around the camp are being controlled via security cameras 24 hours of the day and the recordings the cameras capture are stored. It is not possible to conduct military training at a place which is controlled so strictly with cameras,” the report stated.
The Apaydın camp, located in the southern province of Hatay, came to the public's attention when two CHP deputies who wanted to visit the camp in late August were denied entry. The camp houses 33 Syrian generals who have defected and hundreds of high-ranking Syrian army officers and their families.
The CHP has repeatedly asked the government why its deputies have been denied entry into the camp. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has claimed that Turkey is training Syrian military defectors and soldiers in the camp, which has been closed off to the media. The government said it keeps the camp closed to the outside world for security reasons.
The commission report also denied allegations that Syrian soldiers leave the camp at night to join the fight in Syria and return to the camp in the morning. According to the report, the camp is approximately eight kilometers away from the Syrian border. “Considering this fact and all measures taken [at the camp by Turkish officials], it is impossible for the refugees to enter Syrian territory by leaving the camp at night and joining the fight in that country [Syria] and then coming back to the camp in the morning,” said the report.
A total of 11,068 Syrian refugees are being accommodated at the Apaydın refugee camp, according to the report. Sixty-five percent of the refugees are women and children and almost half of male residents of the camp are over 50.
Syrian defectors and soldiers are being accommodated at a camp separate from other refugees for security reasons, the report stated. According to the report, intelligence was received about attempts to assassinate and poison those defectors and soldiers.
The report also addressed claims that Syrian refugees were causing trouble in Hatay, with some threatening shop owners and stealing their goods. The commission said the police force has not received any calls or complaints thus far from shop owners about Syrian refugees. “Claims that Syrian refugees are acting in a manner to disrupt the order and peace of the region are exaggerated,” the report read.