MHP leader disputes ‘civilian martyrs’ plan
ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires
Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli speaks to his lawmakers at a parliamentary group meeting. DAILY NEWS photoA government plan to extend the “martyr” status to civilians is absurd, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said yesterday, pointing to the cases of slain journalist Hrant Dink and the smugglers killed in a botched air raid at Uludere.
“On what grounds will Hrant Dink, for example, be elevated to the status of a martyr? How can people involved in smuggling be regarded as martyrs? Martyrdom is not a bribe. It cannot be seen as a tool of distributing economic benefits,” Bahçeli said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.
The MHP leader stressed that “martyrdom” was not a legal definition but an expression of “religious and national value” that required holders to be Muslims. “The government’s efforts to expand the definition of martyrdom is absurd and constitutes disrespect and injustice to the souls of the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the motherland,” he said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that 20 legal provisions would be amended and civilians killed in terrorist attacks would be also considered “martyrs” and benefit from state assistance.
Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin has suggested that Dink’s family could apply to benefit from the said assistance and counted the slain Uludere villagers in the scope of “civilian martyrs.”
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin stepped into the debate yesterday, stressing that the bill on the issue had not yet been drafted. “Everything will become clear when the bill is drawn up. A commission will be set up to decide who and under what circumstances will benefit from the bill,” he said in the southern city of Gaziantep.