MHP calls for martial law

MHP calls for martial law

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
MHP calls for martial law

Murat Uzun, the chief public prosecutor in the eastern province of Tunceli’s Ovacık district, is in critical condition after an armed attack by suspected PKK militants. AA photo

Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli called on the government yesterday to declare martial law and a state of emergency in some parts of the country.

“Our soldiers, police, village guards and citizens have become live targets thanks to the negligence and apathy of the government,” Bahçeli said in a written statement. He also offered condolences to the families of 10 soldiers killed in an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Sept. 18 in the eastern province of Bingöl.

“If terrorism is not destroyed, Turkey will be lured into the darkness of separation. Hence, the camps of the terrorists should be destroyed by cross-border air and land operations, and martial law and a state of emergency should be taken into the agenda for the provinces in which the attacks take place,” he said.

Martial law

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said a careful decision must be taken on martial law. “Both martial law and state of emergency are constitutional institutions, and the government will decide whether to implement them,” he said in a televised interview. “But what will such methods bring ..., we must learn from the past experiences,” he said.

Most eastern and southestern provinces were ruled under a state of emergency from 1987 umtil 2002, a practice that has been severly criticized for leading to human rights abuses.

Bahçeli’s call for a martial law came a day after an attack by the PKK militants against a 200-person convoy that was carrying soldiers in civilian clothes to their units, which also raised questions about the security of such transfers.

Ten soldiers were killed and 70 injured in the attack on Sept. 18, which was carried out using long-barreled guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The soldiers were traveling aboard three civilian buses, followed by armored vehicles, according to local officials. It was the second attack by the PKK in the region in the last three days, following a mine attack on a police bus that killed eight police officers.

The two successive attacks have led to a series of unanswered questions, such as what sort of security measures were being taken to protect the soldiers’ transport vehicles against attacks; whether proper intelligence studies were carried out prior to the attack; and whether the security measures required under standard procedure, such as “air or territorial exploration,” “mine exploration” or a gendarmerie patrol were in place.

The fact that the soldiers were being transported on a civilian bus was due to safety measures, said Ahmet Keser, the chairman of the Retired Noncommissioned Officers’ Society (TEMAD). “A helicopter fleet is not appropriate for such a transfer. Armored staff carriers can carry only 11 people, and they are so slow that the trip would have taken at least three days. [Buses are] the most appropriate means of transportation under the present circumstances.”

The vehicles could not have been stopped by rockets, and it is possible that they were first stopped by long-barreled-weapon fire, Keser said. “In order to attack using long-barreled weapons, the PKK must have searched and practiced in the area. It could not have been a sudden attack. There is probably a lack of intelligence regarding the PKK’s activities in the area.” The most important aspect of a soldier transfer is controlling the area, which requires that armed troops be located along the route, said Ret. Col. Daniş Hoşbay.