President Erdoğan vows not to send Syrians home, slams main opposition leader over anti-refugee policy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday pledged not to send refugees who fled civil war in Syria and sought refuge in Turkey back home and slammed Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), for his anti-Syrian remarks, according to Turkish media.

“They [the CHP] say they will send refugees back home if they come to power. We won’t,’’ he said during a speech at an awards ceremony held by the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).

“What did this man [Kılıçdaroğlu] say? He said, ‘We will send them back.’ This is the difference between us,’’ he stated.

Kılıçdaroğlu had earlier promised to send Syrians back home 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 of this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Tanju Özcan, the mayor of Bolu province from the CHP, also said an additional water and solid waste tax 10 times the normal tax would be imposed on refugees living in Bolu.

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.

Turkish media including pro-government and opposition outlets fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against Syrians in Turkey.

According to UNHCR Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.

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