Violent tension between lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) descended into a brawl during a plenary session on April 27, delaying efforts to pass legislation on an EU migration deal.
Deputies threw punches, pushed and tried to restrain each other in the assembly late on April 27 in a row over deadly operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeast.
Fighting erupted after HDP Şırnak deputy Ferhat Encü “commemorated all civilians and children massacred by the security services.”
“I remember the civilians recently massacred by shelling in [the southeastern district of] Silopi. I remember the 34 people, including children, who were brutally bombed by Turkish warplanes in Roboski four years ago,” said Encü.
Turkish warplanes killed 34 villagers, all relatives in Encü, in late 2011 on the border with Iraq in the eastern district of Uludere in the Roboski Massacre.
The acting speaker announced at the end of April 27 session that, following the scuffles, the parliament would not meet again in a full session until May 2.
Lawmakers had been expected to work on April 29 and April 30 on legislation needed for Turks to secure visa-free travel to Europe, a key part of Ankara’s deal with the European Union on stopping uncontrolled migration to Europe.
“You may not like it, but unfortunately these things are true,” he added.
During the speech, AKP deputies reacted angrily and started shouting, declaring Encü a supporter of the PKK.
“You are a murderer. You support murderers. You are despicable. You are a terrorist and a defender of murderers. You should be in jail. You came from the mountains,” the AKP MPs were heard shouting, referring to the Kandil Mountains that are known as the PKK’s headquarters in northern Iraq.
In response, Encü said “those accusing him of being a terrorist are the real terrorists.”
After a fight erupted between the MPs, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ahmet Aydın declared a break in proceedings.
Encü later wrote on his Twitter account that he was “not afraid” of the AKP deputies who targeted him in parliament.
“They attempted to lynch me for commemorating the civilians massacred by the security services. They think that the officers don’t kill. Is that so? If you’ve had just a little honor, you wouldn’t say that to me, as 34 of my own relatives were massacred by law enforcement,” he also wrote.
The fight broke out during debates on a draft bill to establish a supervisory commission to oversee law enforcement officers’ compliance with the law, which was opened on April 27.
The draft suggested the commission would be led by the Interior Ministry’s undersecretary and have seven members who would work to enhance the law enforcement complaint system, as well as make it function transparently, improve its credibility, and centralize the recording of processes initiated against law enforcement officers for their alleged crimes and offenses.
While the general assembly was shut, there were scuffles again on April 28 during a meeting of a constitutional commission which was discussing legislation on lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.
Since interest from both members of parliament and journalists on deliberations over the government-led provisional change in the constitution that would allow parliament to lift legislative immunities was high, the meeting began with a large number of attendees standing in order to follow the debate. The HDP objected to an attempt to usher journalists out of the commission room and asked for a change of the venue.
Tension rose when AKP deputies opposed the HDP’s proposal.