Turkey says it did not deport Syrians who posted banana videos

Turkish opposition lawmakers have inquired about the situation of 19 Syrians who are facing deportation proceedings for posting humorous videos of themselves eating bananas. During a meeting at the Turkish parliament, a senior official of the Turkish Directorate General of Migration said that none of the Syrians had been deported so far.

Duvar English

Mehmet Sinan Yıldız, Deputy Director of Directorate General for Migration Management (DGMM), said that Turkey had not deported any of the Syrians who were detained last month over videos showing them eating bananas.

Yıldız made the comments during a meeting of the Turkish parliament's Migration and Adaptation Sub-Commission on Nov. 10, online news outlet T24 reported.

Opposition deputies asked Yıldız if the Directorate General of Migration had deported any of the Syrians who were facing charges of “instigating people into hatred and animosity.”

Last month, some Syrians released videos of themselves eating bananas in reference to a street interview where a citizen said that he couldn't afford to buy bananas, but that Syrian residents could afford it "in bulk."

"I can't afford bananas, but Syrians buy them in kilograms," the Turkish national was heard saying in the interview.

Syrians gave an answer to the Turkish national's remarks by posting humorous videos, which led to their detention and being placed at repatriation centers.

Opposition lawmakers took this issue to the agenda of parliament, asking Yıldız how many Syrians have been so far imprisoned at repatriation centers and ruled to be deported over the relevant videos.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Mahmut Tanal recalled that foreigners' basic rights could be limited only with the law as per the Constitution's 16th article.

“The number is being said to be 19 [detentions]; how many people have been taken to repatriation centers, for how many people has a ruling of deportation been issued, or how many cases have been launched? If the person in question was not a refugee, but a Turkish national, would the action also constitute as a crime? If it was not a banana, but an apple, would it be still considered the same?” Tanal asked.

Yıldız refrained from giving a clear answer to Tanal, to which the CHP MP reiterated his question once again. In response, Yıldız said: “There is no [Syrian] who has been deported [over the vidoes].”

Meanwhile, rights groups warned that Syrians' deportation would expose them to extremely serious and probably deadly reprisals at the hands of the Syrian authorities.