HDP deputies wear poşu at parliament to protest security bill
DHA PhotoOpposition deputies’ unprecedented creativity in their ways of objecting to a government-led controversial homeland security bill during ongoing General Assembly-level debates at parliament prevailed late Feb. 24.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ayla Akat Ata took to the rostrum, having covered her face with a keffiyeh (“poşu” in Turkish), as her fellow deputies from the HDP joined her by covering their faces with poşus while listening to her address the General Assembly amid heated debates between deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition parties.
Ata read out the definition of “poşu,” originally a Persian word, from the dictionary of the Turkish Language Institute (TDK), which describes the poşu as a kind of headscarf.
“Since when has a poşu, which is an accessory and has been at the same time used as headscarf, turned into a tool of crime?” Ata asked, and then listed occasions where university students, laborers, women, farmers, academics and tradespeople had to cover their faces with poşus when faced with tear gas, sticks and riot control vehicles with water cannons, known as TOMAs, used by police during demonstrations aimed at seeking and protecting their rights and freedoms.
Ata said all of those groups have been victimized by “state terror.”
“They have been victimized by the violence imposed by the state. But it is said ‘We are passing this law to secure freedoms.’ In spite of that, everyone who has criticized the government’s policies and those who wanted freedom have been victimized by this violence,” Ata said, calling on the Council of Ministers to declare the number of people who were arrested for covering their faces before this bill came on the agenda.
“We haven’t yet debated the draft; but today, three young people in Istanbul were arrested because of the poşus they wore to keep safe from cold weather and because [the poşu was] considered ‘reasonable suspicion for crime,’ precisely today. This shame belongs to the AKP government,” she said.
Within the draft, a revision to the Anti-Terror Law provides for a three to five-year prison sentence for anyone “who conceals or partially conceals their face during a demonstration or public assembly that turns into propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
The keffiyeh or poşu, which is useful for keeping the neck warm in winter and for protecting the head from rain and hot sunshine, is common among Palestinians, as well as the Kurds of Turkey.
In July 2013, the Supreme Court of Appeals approved the four years and two months jail term for Cihan Kırmızıgül, a university student who was arrested in 2010 for “possession of explosive material and using it as a terrorist activity.”
The controversial case had come under widespread criticism after it was alleged that Kırmızıgül was detained just for wearing a poşu near a grocery store that was attacked by unidentified individuals wearing the same garment.