AKP, MHP snub CHP bid for PKK talks at assembly
ANKARA / HAKKARİ
The families of two of three soldiers kidnapped by suspected members of the outlawed PKK apply to NGOs for their release amid an ongoing military operation. DHA photo
As military operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in Turkey’s southeast entered their 16th day, political tension in Ankara is likely to nix an extraordinary session of Parliament called to discuss the terrorism issue by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Harshly condemning the CHP’s call, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would not attend the extraordinary meeting, claiming that such a meeting would demonstrate that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was strong enough to convene Parliament.
“The AKP will not fall into this trap. I believe the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] will not fall into this trap either,” Erdoğan said, speaking Tuesday at an iftar dinner in Ankara.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli also said it would be useless to discuss the issue for hours in Parliament. “The state should show its force within the region instead,” Bahçeli told reporters Aug. 6.
Responding quickly, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey faces extraordinary conditions, referring to the ongoing conflict between the PKK and the Turkish army in the Şemdinli district of the southeastern border province of Hakkari.
“Extraordinary convention of Parliament is natural when Turkey faces extraordinary conditions. If the Prime Minister is not aware of these extraordinary conditions, this means he is blind and far away from the realities of Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu at an iftar dinner in Ankara on Tuesday.
Şemdinli has been the scene of unprecedented fighting between the Turkish Armed Forces and PKK militants, as the PKK is trying to take control of area, in a change from its usual hit-and-run tactics. Some areas in Hakkari have been declared temporary military safety zones, and military operations are still going on within the region.
Sergeant killed by landmine
Meanwhile, a specialist sergeant was killed by a landmine explosion Aug. 8 in Şırnak, a neighboring province of Hakkari.
Describing the situation as “extraordinary,” the CHP had called a meeting of the Parliament’s General Assembly to discuss the situation in Hakkari and also the ongoing conflict in Syria, but both the AKP and MHP gave a cold shoulder to this proposal.
Kılıçdaroğlu once again commented on the issue Aug. 8, calling on Erdoğan “to give account to the Parliament.” He also asked whether the Syrian opposition is being provided with arms via Turkey.
“There’s a bloodbath in Syria, people are killing each other. Who gave them arms? Are these weapons passing through Turkey? We will ask these questions. What can the prime minister say about this? He cannot give an account of it, that’s why he is avoiding [the extraordinary meeting of] Parliament,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, speaking to reporters after visiting soldiers at the GATA military hospital.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek yesterday called Parliament to convene on Aug. 14, but the opening of the extraordinary meeting seems unlikely. One third of Parliament members, or 184 lawmakers in total, must appear at the General Assembly in order for an extraordinary session to convene. The AKP and MHP have announced that they will not attend the meeting, and the CHP and the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) attendance alone will not be adequate for an extraordinary session.
Şemdinli clashes an unprecedented war: mayor
The eastern district of Şemdinli has witnessed many battles between the Turkish army and Kurdish militants in the past three decades, but the current operation in the area is the first time the situation has become “war-like,” according to the local mayor.
“Şemdinli residents have witnessed many clashes. But this last clash is especially concerning for the people of Şemdinli. This particular armed conflict has spread out to 15 days and a very large area. We can say that Şemdinli has never witnessed a clash like this one,” Şemdinli Mayor Sedat Töre, elected from the BDP, recently told the Voice of America’s Kurdish-language service.
The military has been fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the area since July 23.
“We don’t know what the military phrase is, but the clash continues with the two sides taking up positions. As such, there is a war-like situation here. In this sense, this is a kind of armed conflict we are seeing for the first time, and it is ongoing -- officials cannot make a statement about how long it will go on,” he said.
Töre said the Şemdinli District Governor’s Office had recently issued a statement to village headmen saying access to villages would be prohibited for another five days. “We can say that this is the most significant feature of this conflict.”
The mayor also said fighter jets flew over Şemdinli yesterday on their way to the conflict area.
“The area of the clashes is around 500 square kilometers. There are 11 or 12 villages within this area. Currently the residents of 50 to 60 households in these villages are staying with their relatives in the town center. The rest of the area’s population has relocated to villages further away from the area of conflict,” he said. “Overall, there are no problems with entry and exit to and from the town center, but the region of armed conflict one kilometer south of the town center is completely closed off to entry and exit.”
Commissions from the BDP and the CHP have attempted to visit the conflict area to conduct investigations of the operations there but were prevented from doing so by security forces, he said.
Together with the eastern province of Siirt’s Eruh district, Şemdinli was the site of the first PKK attack on Aug. 15, 1984, Töre said.