Beating in parliament, murder over snowball
Millions of people all across Turkey have been up in arms against violence, especially violence against women, since the brutal murder of 20-year-old university student Özgecan Arslan last week, but two recent incidents have proven that violence is just a routine of daily life in this country.
On Feb. 17, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) physically attacked opposition lawmakers in parliament during a debate on a controversial security bill, injuring four of them, while a journalist was murdered in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district after a snowball hit the window of a shop while he was in playful snowball fight with his friends.
The fight in parliament erupted following arguments between AKP deputies and lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) during a closed session late in the evening. According to the reports, the hammer and the gong on the parliament speaker’s table were used by AKP MPs to attack and hit their colleagues in the opposition.
HDP lawmaker Ertuğrul Kürkçü and CHP deputies Musa Çam, Aykut Erdoğdu and Mahmut Tanal were injured in the attack. One of the CHP lawmakers suffered broken ribs, while Kürkçü sustained injuries to his head.
Female opposition lawmakers were also targeted by the AKP members, who were wearing black suits in protest of Aslan’s murder and violence against women.
The ruling party lawmakers even had the nerves to mock the victims with their physical assault. The AKP’s Gaziantep deputy Ali Şahin shared a photo of Kürkçü on Twitter with a bandage on his head, and wrote “The hammer and sickle can bring trouble,” in reference to Kürkçü’s background as a revolutionary youth leader who was also involved in armed struggle in the early 1970s.
The situation in parliament could be considered a glimpse of what the country will turn into if the bill that will give broad rights to the police is approved.
But a shopkeeper in Istanbul did not have time to wait for the police to get the right to shoot down people to commit murder. Having been buoyed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call to the tradesmen and craftsmen to be the police to restore public peace if need be, he stabbed journalist Nuh Köklü in the chest after a snowball hit his shop window.
This is unfortunately the kind of shopkeeper Erdoğan wants, because at a meeting of the Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK) in Ankara on Nov. 26, 2014, Erdoğan charged his audience with the task of running and protecting the country themselves.
“Tradesmen and craftsmen are not people involved only in economic activities, in our civilization and in our national soul, tradesmen and craftsmen are soldiers if needed; they are martyrs, veterans, and heroes who protect their country when needed. [They are] police who restore public peace when needed; [they are] the judges who provide justice,” he said.
Last week, Erdoğan criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for keeping silent on the murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina. “If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent toward you,” Erdoğan said, adding that leaders are responsible for the crimes committed in their countries.
By simple logic, one would expect that Erdoğan should feel responsibility and make strong statements about the violence in his country, such as the attack on opposition lawmakers in parliament and the murder of a journalist by a shopkeeper for a snowball hitting his shop’s window.
Unfortunately, logic and reason were among the first casualties during the spiral of violence in the country.