Bolu mayor signals more racist policies as CHP isolates his views from party

Bolu's CHP mayor Tanju Özcan has signaled that he plans to continue with his racist policies, just one day after he announced his plan to charge refugees a 10-fold fee for their water bills. "I will not back down and I will do more," Özcan told Habertürk TV channel on July 27. Meanwhile, the CHP released a statement saying Özcan's views "concern himself" and the party cannot accept anyone being deprived of their basic rights, such as water.

Bolu Mayor Tanju Özcan is seen addressing a meeting.

Duvar English

The mayor of the western province of Bolu, Tanju Özcan, has said that his municipality will increase the water and solid waste tax received from foreign nationals by 10 times.

“Whoever is our subscriber as a foreign national, we will increase some of the prices, especially on water, solid waste [tax], by 10 times. Turkish citizens and foreign nationals will not use the water at the same price. We will increase the water and solid waste tax prices by 10 times,” Özcan, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said during a municipal council meeting on July 26.

Özcan said that this implementation will be put into effect so that foreign nationals residing in the province “go away.” “The hospitality has gone too much. I do not have the authority to put them outside the city with force through the municipality police,” he said.

“When the borders were opened at one point in the past, we had made the bus trips free and sent away people [refugees]. We are ready to send them away today as well. Let us send them away,” he said.

Özcan also said that his implementation will anger some people, prompting them to call him “fascist,” but that “he does not care at all.” “Let them file a lawsuit against me. I am a legal expert. I am also saying the reason for the decision that I am taking,” he said.

Following reactions, Özcan on July 27 appeared in a program on Habertürk TV channel, saying he would not "back down" from his remarks. "I will not back down and I will do more," he said, signaling the implementation of more racist policies. 

Indicating that Turkish society is "disturbed" by refugees, Özcan said: "While my soldiers are martyred there [in Syria], Syrians are here on the streets, looking at people!"

The CHP on July 27 released a written statement isolating the party of Özcan's views, saying: "The views of our Bolu mayor Tanju Özcan about foreign nationals concern himself." 

"The CHP's stance has been conveyed to him when he contacted our Headquarters. The prevention of a basic life right such as water, even the discussion of this topic, runs completely against our party's policies. We believe that the Bolu municipality's valuable councilors will not take a contrary decision," said the CHP. 

The CHP also said that it will not for the moment initiate against a disciplinary process against Özcan. 

The Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (TİHEK) on July 27 released a statement saying it was "monitoring" Özcan's discriminatory remarks.

"The remarks in question are being monitored within the framework of the Law on Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey numbered 6701 as well as national and international human rights. The developments will be shared with the public," it said in a press statement. 

Hate speech against refugees in Turkey is on the rise amid a recent wave of refugees from Afghanistan. Refugees are blamed for the country's increasing economic troubles.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has recently slammed the refugee policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), saying: “No one can declare my country an open prison to refugees.”