CHP lawmaker faces probe after Erdoğan criticizes his remarks over armed drone attacks

CHP lawmaker faces probe after Erdoğan criticizes his remarks over armed drone attacks

CHP lawmaker faces probe after Erdoğan criticizes his remarks over armed drone attacks

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An Ankara prosecutor filed an indictment against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu on Sept. 8, after he voiced concerns over allegations that an armed drone in the southeastern province of Hakkari shot four citizens, leaving one dead. 

The probe came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Tanrıkulu earlier in the day, saying that “the drones only shot terrorists.”

“Where are those civilians?” Erdoğan said on Sept. 8 before embarking on a trip to Kazakhstan, adding that armed drones “shot only terrorists.” 

“These individuals have come to a point where they are defending dead terrorists,” he added, referring to the lawmaker. 

“There is strong evidence that he has defamed the legitimacy of the Turkish state by posting a message on Twitter alleging that an unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] of the Turkish state has shot civilians and killed them,” the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s office stated on Sept. 8. 

Tanrıkulu had said on his Twitter account on Sept. 7 that four civilians were bombed by an armed drone on Aug. 31 in Hakkari, killing one civilian. 

“There was JİTEM [Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit] in the past, now there are SİHAs [UAV]. That kind of method cannot exist in a state of law, but can exist in a state of war, but yet there are rules of war,” he had said, referring to a Turkish abbreviation used for armed drones.
His comments drew criticisms from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials, with the Defense Ministry denying the allegations.

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli criticized Tanrıkulu, accusing him of being “a mouthpiece of a terrorist organization.”

Tanrıkulu responds

Following the statements, Tanrıkulu responded on his Twitter account, giving the identities of the individuals shot by the drones. 

He stated that four citizens went to their villages, 20 kilometers away from Hakkari, after passing routine security checkpoints on the way. 

“While they were sitting by the village spring, called Kani Reş, they were hit by a SİHA,” he said. 
Tanrıkulu said three citizens, 43-year-old İsmail Aydın and 54-year-old Musa Tarhan and İbrahim Sak were wounded, and 37-year-old Mehmet Temel was killed by the drones. 

“They were civilians,” Tanrıkulu stressed.  

The Hakkari Governor’s Office stated on Sept. 1 that the drones were engaged in an anti-terror operation and the wounded individuals were “understood as collaborators of terrorists.” 

“SİHA has bombed a dynamic target in Hakkari Kani Reş Spring on Aug. 31. As a result of the bombing, four members of the separationist terrorist organization [outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK] were neutralized. Collaborators, who were later understood to have been meeting with terrorists, İbrahim Sak and Musa Tarhan were wounded mildly and Mehmet Temel and İsmail Aydın were wounded severely. They were later understood to have been in a meeting with terrorists,” the statement read.

A CHP deputy, Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 14 on charges of providing daily Cumhuriyet video footage purporting to show weapons-loaded National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks heading to Syria.

In addition, there are currently nine HDP lawmakers imprisoned on terror charges, while four elected HDP members, including former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ, have been stripped of their seats in parliament.