Interior Minister Soylu defends police officer accused of groping female protester

Interior Minister Soylu defends police officer accused of groping female protester


Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has defended a police officer who was caught on camera groping a female protester while detaining her, saying he would not allow anyone to “intimidate” the police officer.

“If you carry out an illegal protest and resist, you will be frog-marched to detention. We will not let anyone abuse our police for ‘the project of a woman whose father was dismissed due to [connections with] FETÖ and whose sibling is a member of the outlawed [far-left] DHKP-C,’” Soylu said on his Twitter account on Feb. 20.

The police officer was recorded on camera grabbing the bottom of Merve Demirel while detaining her and pushing her into a police van at a protest for the Foundation for Solidarity of Families of Convicts (TAYAD) in the capital Ankara on Feb. 1.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aysu Bankaoğlu brought the issue to the Turkish Parliament, calling on the government to not overlook the harassment. “I request the abuse allegations to be investigated immediately,” the deputy said.

“Being the country’s interior minister does not give him the right to talk this way,” CHP group deputy chair Engin Özkoç said.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Özlem Zengin said she would speak to the interior minister about his remarks. “Whatever the motive was, what’s done is illegal and wrong,” she said.

The Ankara Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against the police officer, while Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu submitted a parliamentary question regarding the sexual abuse.

Demirel also filed a criminal complaint with Ankara prosecutors.

Ankara’s provincial police department claimed on Feb. 18 that the allegations regarding the police officer were made for “provocation reasons and to defame the reputation of the police force.”

The police department also accused Demirel of being a sympathizer of the far-left group DHKP-C.