Death of nationalist student stirs politics in Turkey

Death of nationalist student stirs politics in Turkey

Death of nationalist student stirs politics in Turkey

MHP's deputy leader Oktay Vural struggled to speak about the death of Fırat Yılmaz Çakıroğlu at the General Assembly of Turkey's parliament late Feb. 20. Hürriyet photo / Selahattin Sönmez

A student in the western Turkish city of İzmir has been killed during a fight at his university, sparking a political debate in which Turkey's leading nationalist and Kurdish problem-focused parties have been involved.

Fırat Yılmaz Çakıroğlu, the representative of the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) youth branch at Ege University, has been stabbed during a fight at the campus on Feb. 20. Çakıroğlu died before he was taken to the hospital, according to Turkish media, which also reported that seven students have been injured with one in critical condition.

Death of nationalist student stirs politics in Turkey

Oktay Vural, MHP's deputy group head at Turkey's parliament, announced the death in an emotional address to lawmakers late Feb. 20. "He [Fırat] had called me yesterday and told that they asked for police protection because they expected an organized assault as they would go to the school for exams today," Vural said.

"The government could not protect Fırat," he added, criticizing that the ruling party deputies have been making every effort to push a controversial domestic security bill, but "did not even let a police car to hospitalize Fırat, who bled to his death because the ambulance came too late."

Doğan News Agency reported Feb. 20 that the fight erupted between some 40 nationalist students and 20 leftist students at the university, while Vural blamed "the youth organization of the PKK," referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party. "I had warned the government of their activities in the university, but the police ignored us," he said.

Similary, MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli warned of an "AKP-PKK trap," while urging calm. "We will keep holding our position against every intent and attempt that can push Turkey to instability, fighting and chaos," he said.

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), described the death as a "planned provocation of the kind that is seen before each election." 

"Such provocations cannot be beyond the government's knowledge. In fact, the government is usually the organizer," he said, telling the youth that "you cannot call a person worthless because he or she is an MHP member."

"It is not true that the ambulance was late and the police was inadequate, İzmir Governor Mustafa Toprak told Doğan News Agency, stressing that he "wants to stay away from polemics."

A criminal investigation has been launched into the incident with seven people under custody and five knives found at the crime scene.

Ege University declared a three-day recess due to the murder in the campus.