While Turkey fails to protect Syrian refugee children from child rape which is widespread, it continues to hold Europe over a barrel as it threatens to tear up a controversial migrant deal if its citizens are not granted visa-free travel within the European Union.
The facts on the ground indicate that the sexual abuse of children in Turkey is extremely widespread and the Turkish state authorities are not acting responsibly.
When Syrian babies and other children, as well as women, are being raped and treated horribly in Turkey, and their abusers go free; when journalists covering these abuses are threatened; when publication bans are imposed on the crimes committed against Syrians, and when criminals are given “good conduct abatement” by courts, Turkey seems to be one of the last countries on earth to have the moral right to demand visa-free travel in Europe or anywhere else.
…A 9-month-old Syrian baby was raped in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep on August 19.
…Huseyin Simsek, the journalist who covered the incident for the newspaper Birgun, said that that he and the newspaper received countless death threats on social media for reporting the rape.
“Today, a 9-month-old baby was raped in Antep. There is a medical report. I am being sworn at, informed on, and threatened with death.
“The incident is real. The doctors say the baby is 7 or 9-months-old. We will keep on writing.”
Some Twitter users called the reporter “a PKK terrorist”, “a FETO [Gulenist] terrorist”, “a traitor” and “a son of a bitch”, among others. Other users referred to Birgun as “toilet paper” and called for destroying the newspaper building.
When Samil Tayyar, an Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP from Gaziantep, confirmed the rape on his Twitter account, another Twitter user responded:
“Dear MP, such news should not be used. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. We are giving material to the enemy. Be responsible, please.”
He was apparently referring to the recent criticism by Sweden that Ankara was legalizing sex with children.
…The Islahiye Penal Court of Peace in Gaziantep has issued a media blackout on the rape of the Syrian baby.
…30 Syrian Boys Raped at Nizip Camp
The daily, Birgun, also reported in May that 30 Syrian boys between the ages of 8 and 12 had been raped at a refugee camp in the Nizip district of Gaziantep.
A cleaning worker at the camp paid the children for a few Turkish liras to sexually abuse them.
…AFAD, the state institution that runs the camp, confirmed the rapes:
…Shortly after the scandal at the Nizip camp, it was reported that five Syrian children staying at the Islahiye refugee camp in Gaziantep, and also run by AFAD, were sexually abused by an 87-year-old Syrian national, Ahmed H., multiple times. Again, the authorities of the camp were not “able” to protect the children, whose ages ranged from 4 to 8.
…The children then told the authorities about the abuse they had been exposed to. The abuse was also proven by surveillance cameras.
On May 3, Ahmed H. was acquitted for the sexual abuse of his grandchildren on grounds that “[t]here was not enough persuasive evidence” for a conviction.
As for his trial for abusing the other victims, he was given “good conduct abatement” by the court due to “his positive behavior during the trial process.”
…In the meantime, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech at the Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center on August 24, saying:
“What did they [the Europeans] say?: ‘We will give the refugees who come to these camps three billion Euros of aid’. Where is it? This year is almost over. Where is it? Not here.”
Reporters and eyewitnesses, however, have revealed that Turkey has allowed jihadists to travel in and out of Turkey and has even provided funds, logistics and arms for extremist groups, including the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Al Nusra Front.
…Turkey now not only leaves Syrian asylum seekers uncared for and unprotected, but is also blackmailing the EU over the Syrians, whose pain and devastation the Turkish authorities are largely responsible for.
Given the increasingly violent crackdown on the Turkish media and pressures against free speech in the country, it is highly probable that the child sexual abuse cases reported in Gaziantep are just the tip of the iceberg.