Deputy PM angers HDP by claiming absence of party members among Suruç victims

Deputy PM angers HDP by claiming absence of party members among Suruç victims

Deputy PM angers HDP by claiming absence of party members among Suruç victims

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A senior governmental official’s claim aimed at drawing attention to the alleged absence of executives from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) instead of the widely criticized absence of security forces during a suicide bomb attack which killed 32 mostly young students has sparked a harsh reaction from the HDP.

“Among those who died, there is neither an authority from the municipality nor someone from provincial town branches of the HDP. It is a separate matter of intelligence why these people were not especially embedded in that crowd, why they remained… at a distance,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said late on July 22.

“Why weren’t they there? They may have a very innocent reason; we would actually like to learn. However, I request everybody to be careful vis-à-vis those ignoble ones who shower insults on this country’s president by saying, ‘But there was not a soldier there, where was the government, murderer [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan?’” Arınç said, speaking at a press conference following an almost eight-hour long cabinet meeting. 
The HDP’s response was swift, with Mardin deputy Mithat Sancar immediately joining a television program via telephone after Arınç’s press conference was aired live on various channels.

Sancar said Arınç’s remarks were meant to ask “why HDP members were not killed” and he described it as “very awful.”

“We have laid our party assembly member and the co-chair of our district branch to rest. Bülent Arınç’s speech is grave,” Sancar told private CNN Türk news channel.

HDP party assembly member Ferdane Kılıç and her son Nartan Kılıç died in the attack, while Ferdane Kılıç’s daughter Sinem Kılıç was wounded. The co-chair of the HDP’s branch in the Maltepe district of Istanbul, Duygu Tuna, was also killed in the attack which took 32 lives in in the town of Suruç in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa on July 20, when a blast tore through a group of university students from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations as they gathered in the border town ahead of a planned trip to help rebuild the nearby Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s brief response to Arınç came through his Twitter account.
“Don’t worry, sooner or later, all of us will one day be among those who died. Don’t upset yourself,” Demirtaş said.

Earlier on July 22, speaking to reporters after attending the funeral ceremonies of Ferdane and Nartan Kılıç in Bursa province, Demirtaş extended condolences to the families of a soldier who was killed on July 20 in a gun attack staged by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in in the southeastern province of Adıyaman and to two police officers who were killed on July 22 in an attack in Ceylanpınar on the Syrian border for which militants from the PKK claimed responsibility. 

“We don’t want to see blood and tears in our country anymore. We lost our 32 beloved ones. But we do know that blood cannot be cleaned with blood. Blood cannot be washed away with blood. We will continue our efforts in democratic peaceful struggle despite all of these hardships,” Demirtaş said.

‘No need for national mourning’

Meanwhile, Arınç also argued that the cabinet hasn’t considered a declaration for a period of national mourning over the Suruç attack as “definitely necessary.”

“There is nothing odd” with a declaration of national mourning by the government in January for Saudi Arabia’s former King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Arınç also said, in response to criticism by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), which also tabled a motion to declare a three-day period of national mourning for the losses in Suruç.

“I believe that if we declare national mourning, one-by-one in this case and similar cases, then it would lose its meaning,” he said.