Turkish opposition leader complains of death threat

Turkish opposition leader complains of death threat

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on June 8 that a bullet was thrown at him during the funeral of two police officers killed in a June 7 terrorist attack in Istanbul, which he regarded as a death threat. Kılıçdaroğlu said the attacker belonged to a small group protesting the CHP head during the funeral and threw the bullet at him “in front of a former president [Abdullah Gül], the prime minister [Binali Yıldırım], the interior minister [Efkan Ala], and many police officers.” The man responsible for the act was taken into police custody after warnings from CHP officials.

“I consider this a death threat,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, referring to the typical Mafioso message of sending a bullet or a bullet cartridge to the targeted person. “The police were supposed to protect us and the crowd at the funeral … But the attacker did this with no obstruction from the police officers; in fact it was almost like he was coordinating with them.” 

The CHP head added that his body guards had collected the bullet (which he showed to the press in a plastic bag) carefully in order not to damage the finger prints, saying they would deliver it to the police. 

Kılıçdaroğlu also said they were warned by security officials not to attend the funeral because of the danger of incidents or attacks taking place. “But nobody can stop us from attending the funerals of our fallen ones in the struggle against terror … They are our martyrs; the martyrs of all people.” 

Just before the funeral, the CHP leader had addressed the government, pledging “joint action by all political parties against terrorism.” However, the protesting group accused Kılıçdaroğlu and the CHP of being “tolerant” of terrorists and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been carrying out acts of terror claiming many lives across Turkey. Prime Minister Yıldırım had stated earlier on June 8 that the PKK was behind the bomb attack killing 11 people (six of them police officers) in Istanbul on June 7 as well as the attack killing two police officers in Midyat on June 8. The CHP has condemned the PKK attacks, supported the anti-terrorism fight, and also warned the government about rights violations in that ongoing struggle.

A similar protest was carried out against Kılıçdaroğlu last month during a funeral for soldiers killed in fight against the PKK, staged by a small but seemingly organized group who came to the funeral with eggs that they threw at the CHP head.

The June 8 incident took place the day after President Tayyip Erdoğan approved a bill to allow the trial of 152 members of parliament (out of 550) by lifting their legal immunities on a total of 799 files, including files on Kılıçdaroğlu. The initiative was taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) following a statement by Erdoğan that MPs supporting PKK acts, especially deputies of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), should be taken to court. Most of the files against Kılıçdaroğlu, who voted in favor of the bill and volunteered to be tried, are on charges of “insulting the president,” which has become one of the most common cases opened in Turkey since Erdoğan was elected in August 2014.

Kılıçdaroğlu has urged about the need to de-escalate political tension, amid increasingly strained nerves due to acts of terror. The prime responsibility for that de-escalation falls on the government.