Deputies brawl in Turkish Parliament over Afrin operation
A group of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers traded blows during a parliamentary session late on March 7 while debating Turkey’s ongoing military operation into the northern Syrian district of Afrin.
The brawl erupted after HDP lawmaker Mahmut Toğrul cited an Amnesty International report on civilian casualties in the operation, and called for the operation to be brought to an end.
“As the operation continues, civilian casualties are increasing,” Toğrul said.
A number of AKP deputies then accused Toğrul of being a “mouthpiece of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK,” and fisticuffs broke out after AKP deputy Leyla Şahin Usta approached Toğrul.
HDP Deputy Group Chair Filiz Kerestecioğlu said Toğrul was injured in the brawl.
“There should be no physical aggression in response to words,” Kerestecioğlu said.
Speaking at the session, AKP MPs denied that the Turkish military had any involvement or responsibility in civilian causalities.
“Describing acts of the Turkish army, which are being conducted to protect and ensure the survival of our country, by saying ‘the Turkish army has done ethnic cleansing,’ is just the most vulgar speech,” AKP deputy Mustafa Elitaş said.