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Far-right Turkiye Party fundraising for bus tickets to deport Syrian refugees

January 18, 2023 at 7:53 pm

Umit Ozdag, the leader of Victory Party (ZP) in Ankara on 6 May 2022 [ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images]

A far-right Turkish Party has launched a fundraising campaign for the apparent purpose of buying bus tickets to deport Syrian refugees, as anti-refugee sentiment continues to spread throughout Turkiye.

In a tweet on Monday, the Chairman of the Victory Party, Umit Ozdag, stated that “Ticket sales for Zafer Tourism’s one-way trips to Damascus have begun.” He also asked people to provide names of Syrians they want to have deported, promising to “make the reservation”.

Having founded the Party in August 2021, Ozdag is infamous for visiting businesses owned or run by Syrians and – often aggressively – asking them to leave the country.

He also funded a popular dystopian movie named “Silent Invasion” on YouTube, which outlines an imaginary future in which Turkiye has an Arab majority and a dominated Turkish minority.

READ: Turkish ultranationalists should know that Assad is their enemy, not Syrian refugees

The Victory Party’s scheme has been interpreted by many as simply rhetoric to receive funds, but its apparent promise to buy bus tickets and deport Syrian refugees is the darkest and most direct expression of anti-refugee sentiment from a political party yet.

While other – larger and more popular – opposition parties have promised to implement measures against refugees and return them to Syria, the Victory Party’s vows surpass those and directly go against the boundaries of voluntary and dignified return espoused by the United Nations.

Ozdag has even threatened to revoke the Turkish citizenship of those sympathetic to refugees and of refugee activists who have gained Turkish nationality over the past decade.