Tolga Balcılar, a Turkish journalist who has been in pre-trial detention for 15 days, is on a hunger strike in protest of his detention without charges, according to Ümit Özdağ, the leader of the far-right and anti-refugee Victory Party (ZP).

Balcılar was reportedly detained by police after reporting a group of Afgan refugees who fled a refugee camp in southern Turkey early in July 2022. He was later sent to prison by a Turkish court in Osmaniye, a city in the Çukurova region of Turkey,

“Tolga weighted 95 kg. He is 80 now. Doctors are worried. He wants to talk to me in prison but the prison management is not allowing it,” Özdag tweeted.

Özdağ has been at the forefront of anti-refugee propaganda in Turkey. Syrian and Afghan refugees in Turkey, which hosts around 4 million refugees, are frequently targeted by Özdağ, who holds them responsible for the social and economic problems in the country.

Özdağ also said when his party comes to power, it will make Turkey withdraw from the Ottawa Treaty, which Turkey signed in 2004, agreeing to phase out anti-personnel landmines and establish a humanitarian surveillance system on its borders.

Attitudes about refugees fleeing the long conflict in Syria have gradually hardened in Turkey, where they used to be welcomed with open arms, sympathy and compassion, as the number of newcomers has swelled over the past decade.