MHP denies allegations of ‘inflaming the streets’
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘These 63 should fear,’ the MHP leader says about the ‘Wise Persons’ group during a meeting in the city of İzmir. AA photoThe Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has scorned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s allegations of inciting anger in the streets by provoking the public against the ongoing “peace process.”
“The street and square are different things,” Bahçeli told reporters en route from İzmir to Ankara on April 21, implying their dismissal of Erdoğan’s remarks.
“When the MHP starts a meeting process with people, then it’s described as the MHP taking to the streets. This is a very incorrect statement. The streets are dark and open 24 hours. Squares are areas where one meets with people within certain hours,” Bahçeli was quoted as saying in daily newspaper Sabah.
Bahçeli’s bold response came in defiance of Erdoğan’s remarks on April 19 condemning Bahçeli’s attitude toward his party’s young grassroots, after Bahçeli said “Don’t worry, that time will come,” when MHP supporters chanted “We will attack and we will die if you say so,” during a rally in the northwestern province of Bursa, in late March.
On April 19, Erdoğan said, “We can never allow terror to take over the streets when one [terrorist group] is leaving. We will not allow Bahçeli to call on youth to take to the streets, as his ground is sliding because the terror is coming to an end,” in a direct criticism of Bahçeli’s remarks on the ongoing process, aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
During his İzmir rally on April 20, Bahçeli reiterated his blunt reaction against the 63 wise-persons selected by the government to win public support for the process. “The PKK’s ambassadors, half intellectuals, terror peddlers, blood barons, death mongers, the immoral who speak seditiously of ‘solutions’ and ‘peace’ should fear this noise. These 63 should fear. They should quickly stop creating dissension,” Bahçeli said.
In response, on April 21, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) deputy leader Mehmet Ali Şahin accused Bahçeli of making the wise persons targets. “People chant at the rally, ‘We will attack and we will die if you say so.’ For whom will you give instructions to attack?” Şahin asked. He added that if anything was to happen to the wise persons, Bahçeli would be responsible for it, due to his remarks in İzmir.
In a press conference held on April 22, MHP’s deputy parliamentary group chair Oktay Vural expressed their belief that the crowd in İzmir was a proof of people’s opposition to the process, as he said, “This picture has shown that MHP represents the silent majority of the Turkish people. The people are claiming the ownership of this firm stance by MHP.”
Vural argued that the wise persons were working as the “missionaries of the AKP”, where he also pre-empted against any possible assaults on his partys.