Opposition parties voice indignation over protesters’ death in Yüksekova
ISTANBUL / HAKKARİ
People gather around the coffins of two men in Hakkari's Yüksekova Hakkari, on Dec. 7. AFP photoOpposition parties have expressed indignation over the death of two demonstrators during a protests in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district on Dec. 6, voicing concerns about the effect on the ongoing Kurdish peace process.
Protests erupted spontaneously on Dec. 6 after a local NGO claimed that graves belonging to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had been vandalized. Veysel İşbilir (34) and his nephew Mehmet Reşit İşbilir (32), who both sustained severe injuries during the police intervention, died after being taken to hospital.
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who went to Hakkari on Dec. 7 to attend the funeral of the two demonstrators, demanded that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologize for the incident.
“We wonder whether Erdoğan will say anything about those two people who died in clashes, as the Hakkari Governor’s Office did. Will he apologize to our people for the killing of those two workers? That’s what we want to hear,” Demirtaş said.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy head Sezgin Tanrıkulu also condemned the “execution” of the protesters at the hands of the police, saying the incident showed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not support a genuine solution to the Kurdish issue.
“It is crucial that light is shed on this incident and a judicial procedure is opened. The interior minister should immediately go to the area and conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, apologizing to the İşbilir family,” Tanrıkulu said in a statement.
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also condemned the incident with strong words.
“We won’t let the massacre in Gever [the Kurdish name of Yüksekova] undermine the resolution and peace process,” a statement from HDP co-chairs Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Sabahat Tuncel said on Dec. 7.
They also accused the police of opening fire on the demonstrators. “The cowardice [of the government] is strengthening the alliance between members of civilian and uniformed bureaucracies with the representatives of parties looking for an opportunity to interrupt the peace process,” it said, calling on the government to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths.
The HDP was formed as an umbrella party comprising Kurds and a number of small leftist parties.
The Hakkari Governor’s Office had confirmed the deaths on Dec. 6, but claimed that a group of “25-30 people wearing masks” attacked the police with handmade explosives and fireworks, adding that people with weapons opened fire on security officers. The police, who launched an investigation following the incident, alleged that both demonstrators were holding weapons when they were shot.
The autopsy showed that Mehmet Reşit İşbilir was shot six times, while Veysel İşbilir was shot twice.
Huge provocation: PKK leader
Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan also condemned the incident, describing it as a “murder” and a “huge provocation targeting the [peace] process.”
Öcalan, who was receiving the 13th parliamentary delegation at his prison on İmralı Island, said he expected a “more positive negotiation initiative” from the government, but added that he maintained his hopes on the process.
“The greatest sensitivity for the children of this people will be to revive their names in the struggle for peace and freedom,” Öcalan said in the message.
The message from İmralı was conveyed by a delegation composed of the BDP deputy parliamentary group chairs Pervin Buldan and İdris Baluken, as well as the HDP lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder.