Turkish presidential candidate Kilicdaroglu likes tweet calling for expulsion of refugees

Turkish presidential candidate Kilicdaroglu likes tweet calling for expulsion of refugees
Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has liked tweets from a Turkish mayor, infamous for his anti-Syrian rhetoric, calling for the deportation of refugees from Turkey.
3 min read
17 May, 2023
Turkey has hosted over 3.5 million Syrian refugees since 2011[Getty]

Turkish opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has liked a tweet by a notorious mayor calling for the expulsion of refugees from the country.

"On May 28 (the runoff date in the Turkish presidential election), there must be a choice, between those who want to deport the refugees and those who want to keep them. Those who want to keep them should elect [President Tayyip] Erdogan, and those who want to deport them should elect [Kemal] Kilicdaroglu," wrote the mayor of the northern Turkish city of Bolu, Tanju Ozcan, in a series of tweets on Monday.

Ozcan is from Kilicdaroglu's Republican People’s Party (CHP). As mayor of the town of Bolu, which has a population of over 180,000, he took several racist measures against Syrian refugees, rasing their energy and water bills, stopping aid, and expelling some of them from the area.

Early last year he was sued by a local NGO over accusations of hate speech against Syrian refugees.

In 2021, he said he would introduce a measure at the local assembly to multiply water and waste tax costs for "foreigners".

Kilicdaroglu came just behind Erdogan in the crucial presidential vote on Sunday, but both fell short of a majority and the election will now go to a second round. 

The CHP presidential candidate previously vowed to expel the 3.5 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey within two years if he wins the presidency.

He has used the issue to win over voters who have blamed Syrian refugees for Turkey’s economic woes.

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Turkey has hosted millions of Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. The country is also a transit route for other refugees trying to access Europe from Asia.

In another tweet, Ozcan said he wished to send back Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees who he considered were "a problem to our children, property, and honour." He called on those against deporting refugees to leave as well.

"For God’s sake… Let’s not say [regret] in 10 years we wish we sent them away," he said in the tweet.

He said Kilicdaroglu must be clearer in his intentions on deporting refugees.

"Either voluntarily or by force, they must be deported. This is how it should be. We cannot take care of our own people, so how will we take care of 13 million refugees?"

He also lashed out at voters who backed Erdogan.

The incumbent Turkish president has criticised what he called the opposition's "inhuman" and "un-Islamic" position on refugees but human rights groups have blamed his government for arbitrarily deporting thousands of refugees to Syria.