The Turkish newspaper, BirGün, is reporting that as many as thirty Syrian refugee children have been raped in the Nizip refugee camp, not far from Gaziantep, Turkey.
The perpetrator of the violence against 30 children is believed to have been a cleaner – referred to by the newspaper with the initials EE – who has been arrested.
Beyond the horror of the news, there are suspicions that it was common knowledge that abuse was taking place, but the fact has only emerged into the public sphere as part of the political power struggle against the soon-to-be former Prime Minister Davudoglu.
In fact AFAD, which is the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office for Emergency Management, is responsible for security in the camps. Moreover, Nizip was considered by the Turkish authorities a model refugee camp, and was personally visited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her recent trip to Turkey.
Investigations were sparked by military guards at the outside the camp who through binoculars noticed a suspicious movement around the baths, so much so that an official, interviewed by BirGün, held AFAD directly responsible for the incident.
According to a report published by the Turkish left-wing daily BirGün on Thursday, a cleaner “sexually assaulted” a total of 30 Syrian boys, the oldest of whom were only 12 years old, in the bathrooms of the state-run Nizip refugee camp from September 2015 through the beginning of the current year.
The rapist, identified only as E.E., has confessed that he lured children into blind spots, which were not detected by surveillance cameras, to have sex with them in return for 1.5 to 5 Turkish liras (USD 0.51-1.69). The 29-year-old suspect, currently held in pre-trial detention, reportedly faces a total of 289 years of imprisonment.
The children’s families became aware of the sexual abuses after a boy, identified as H.I., talked to his father about the man and his persistent misconduct.
The families of eight children have so far come forward with a legal complaint. The rest of the families have not taken any measures for fear of deportation.
The sexual abuses were never detected by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), which runs the camp. The matter was brought to light after military officers inside the camp started reviewing surveillance cameras, and noticed that the perpetrator was taking children to blind spots.
An unnamed high-ranking military officer from the camp later blamed the AFAD for the rapes. “The AFAD is in charge of the camp and responsible for this disaster,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had praised the Turkish refugee camp during her visit on April 23. She was presented with flowers by a group of Syrian girls before touring the camp.
Security forces at the camp, which houses 14,000 Syrians, prevented the press from speaking to any refugees other than those hand-picked to greet the German leader.
The shocking news comes amid reports of Turkish border control officers abusing and shooting Syrian refugees. Human Rights Watch says Turkish border guards shoot and beat Syrian refugees trying to cross into Turkey, calling on the country to investigate abuses.
Turkish newsagency Dogan reports that the camp can accommodate up to 14 thousand refugees, but currently houses only 10,800 Syrians and is now at the center of other scandals which are beginning to leak out.
Recently published reports reveal that the Turkish military fired continuously against Syrian asylum seekers, so that Amnesty International has declared Turkey a place “unsafe” for asylum seekers.
The main opposition force in the country, Republican People’s Party (CHP), has requested the opening of a parliamentary inquiry and on Friday sent, a delegation to Nizip, as Veli Agbaba, the Assistant Secretary of the CHP reported on his Twitter account. (PB)
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