Harrowing accounts by pre-teen victims of a rapist at Turkey’s Nizip refugee camp paint a picture of systematic abuse at the site designed to be a sanctuary. Amid the ongoing probe, neither reporters, nor opposition MPs are able to freely access the camp.
Sputnik agency has obtained an indictment of the 27-year old serial rapist who worked as a cleaner at the Nizip refugee camp in Antep, Turkey. The alleged perpetrator, who faces up to 230 years behind bars, is accused of sexually abusing some 30 children as young as eight years old from June to September 2015.
The indictment sheet contains the names of only eight boys, all of them from war-torn Syrian regions, who have been confirmed by the court as victims of the offender identified only as “E.E.”. Families of other underage victims decided not to proceed with charges, as they were afraid of being deported back to the conflict zone, according to Erik Acarer, a journalist with the BirGün newspaper, which first broke the story.
“E.E.” – a native of the southeastern Turkish district of Bozova in Şanlıurfa province – stands accused of “premeditated sexual abuse towards children, forcing minors to enter into sexual relations in a perverted form” for exchange of a slightly more than a US dollar on average. The court is expected to deliver its verdict on June 1.
Rape survivors who testified before the court provided crucial evidence in the case, as the man deliberately chose blind spots of cameras to commit his attacks so they would remain unseen.
“E. E. called me and took me to the toilet. He offered me 1.5 liras for sex. I refused. Then he abruptly removed my trousers and raped me,” a boy, identified only as “A.D.”, told the court.
“A few days later, he called me again, but I ran. The next day, he grabbed me again, dragged me to the toilet and did the same thing,” the boy said.
Another victim of repeated sexual abuse that went unnoticed was a 12-year-old, identified only as “M.H.”
“During Ramadan, E.E. called me to the shower and said that he would give me 5 liras. I came to him. At first, he was caressing various parts of my body, then he began touching my genitals, but there was no rape,” said the boy, who was also allegedly subjected to similar acts by the same man 15 days after the end of Ramadan.
One of the boys, identified as “H.I.”, told the story of how he escaped the fate of the other boys due to sheer luck.
“E.E. called me and told me to meet him in the toilet for ‘some fun’ and promised to give me 10 liras,” said the boy. Luckily for the child, the man had forgotten something and left the premises. “At that point, I ran away. I went to my father and told him everything. We then went together to the police station and told them about what happened.”
‘Exemplary’ facility praised by Western officials
The shocking evidence comes from the camp personally showcased by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to high-profile European guests, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk as an exemplary facility in April. Now the refugee camp, which just last month seemed to have gladly welcomed European politicians, seems to have turned into a closed facility.
In April, Merkel praised Turkey for the efforts it is undertaking “not only to provide a safe haven for millions of refugees, but also to provide them with opportunities and perspectives,” apparently charmed by an extravagant welcome ceremony with four young Syrian women clad in white dresses presenting flowers to her.
Tusk then went even further, calling the country “the best example for the whole world of how we should treat refugees,” adding that “no one has the right to lecture Turkey what to do.”
However, the doors of the celebrated refugee camp closed before country’s own journalists and the Turkish MPs from Republican People’s Party (CHP). The latter managed to enter the territory but were barred from speaking to the families of the victims.
RT spoke to Erk Acarer, a reporter with the BirGün newspaper, banned by the Turkish government from accessing the camp area, who alleged the authorities might have planned to cover up the unpleasant truth about the camp.
“Our access to the camps was restricted from the very beginning… The authorities did not give us any explanation,” he said, stressing that such strange conduct of the camp administration “confirms what we have been saying from the very beginning that the government is covering something there.”
He also added that the authorities carefully selected which journalists would be allowed to visit the center to make sure that any information that could harm the government would not be let out.
“Our access to the camps was restricted from the very beginning and they only let pro-government journalists in and they don’t do that very often. Firstly they clear up the site and later lawmakers from the Republican People’s Party somehow managed to get in and naturally they wanted to meet the families of the victims. But naturally, the authorities did not allow this,” he said.
Since the probe into E.E.’s activities was opened, the employee has not been even dismissed by the camp operator, the Ministry for Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). The operator, which runs refugee facilities in the country, only “changed the place of duty of their worker, who is held responsible of abuses rather than handing him to the court.”
Acarer also had some alarming information regarding the security cameras at the camp, which could have caught the rapist in the act.
“There are 85 cameras in the camp and 14 were pointed at the scenes where the sexual assaults took place. But strangely when the court asked for the video recordings, the camp authorities replied that all 14 cameras were broken and were not able to record anything,” the journalist mentioned.
However, the most serious concern is now the psychological wellbeing of the victims, which is unknown as they “don’t have access to the families of the victims.”
What is worse, three of the victims are said to be still missing.
The unfolding tragedy could be a sign of a larger looming social problem within Turkey, as the country may not be able to create an acceptable environment for the Syrian refugees to live and work on a par with Turkish citizens.
“The government claims that Syrians are in good hands, but this is not real,” Acarer said.
On Thursday, the CHP called on the Turkish Parliament to launch a parliamentary commission to investigate all the circumstances of the case – so far, to no avail.
Elif Dogan, a CHP MP, was among the delegation of deputies that were allowed to enter the camp. However, the inspection was “reminiscent of a well-planned and prepared demonstration program, as if we were on a tourist trip, where a special imitation of a tent camp had been prepared and carefully demonstrated. I suspect that behind these closed doors were even more serious violations and crimes,” the MP told Sputnik.
“Around us, 10-15 guards had gathered, and they did their best to prevent our work. I wanted to ask, where they had been when children were being raped?” she asked, criticizing AFAD.
RT has asked some of the leading human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, UNICEF Turkey and OHCHR to comment on the case. So far we have received a response only from HRW, which was “unable to comment this time” as it “hasn’t looked into this issue sufficiently.”[Source: RT]