Opposition deputy falls from stairs at Turkish parliament amid fight over security bill
Lawmakers from the main opposition CHP and ruling AKP scuffle during a debate on a legislation to boost police powers, at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara late February 19, 2015. AFP Photourkey’s Parliament descended into fresh chaos on Feb. 19 with lawmakers exchanging punches for a second time over a controversial bill to boost police powers against protesters.
Ruling party and opposition lawmakers traded blows and one opposition deputy even fell down the stairs, just before parliament was about to begin a debate on the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) new security package.
Opposition parties voiced their objections to the bill for more than three hours, arguing that the bill contradicted both parliament’s internal regulations and the constitution. Eventually, heated verbal exchanges between the warring sides escalated into punches and kicks.
Tension first rose after Deputy Parliament Speaker Sadık Yakut, who was administrating the session, repeatedly mispronounced the name of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Adil Zozani, calling him “Mr. Zazani.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, standing at rostrum to address parliament, thought Yakut had addressed his name incorrectly and criticized him.
After Yakut responded by saying “Shame on you,” CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi stepped in to voice his reaction.
Zozani then addressed Yakut and told him: “You’re having trouble saying names and surnames. We advise you to take a rest.”
Yakut responded: “You yourself should take a rest, don’t play the doctor here.”
When Zozani said “I understand your psychology very well,” Yakut replied by saying “You should first of all look at your own psychology.”
Tanrıkulu, who was still waiting to give his speech at the rostrum, then addressed Yakut, saying: “I’m a member of this parliament and I have the internal regulation in my hands, you should first of all address me.”
After Yakut laughed at Tanrıkulu’s warning, the latter told him: “You shouldn’t be laughing so loosely either.”
After Tanrıkulu was finally given the floor, AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mahir Ünal waded in, saying: “You’ll say everything, you’ll come and talk and we won’t say anything, is that so?”
Tanrıkulu then diverted his path from the rostrum and walked towards Ünal, prompting AKP deputies to rush to separate the two, prompting opposition deputies to also leave their seats.
As fists and kicks began flying in the General Assembly hall, CHP deputy Orhan Düzgün engaged AKP deputy Suat Önal in battle. After being pushed by Önal, Düzgün fell down the stairs that are used to pass stenographs down to the lower floor.
As Düzgün fell down to the lower floor, other CHP deputies panicked overhead, diverting their attention from the brawl in order to rescue Düzgün.
Overall, the fisticuffs went on for around 10 minutes, and resulted in minor injuries. While trying to protect Düzgün, the eyebrow of CHP deputy Hasan Ören was cut.
Düzgün himself refused to leave the General Assembly hall to see a doctor, vowing to “stay and continue the struggle.” Medical trained deputies attended to Düzgün in parliament.
CHP deputy Aykut Erdoğdu, who was among those deputies who ran to help Düzgün, claimed that AKP deputies had also tried to push him and other CHP lawmakers down the same stairs.
“I fought back to prevent that attempt and I swung a few fists. We were only able to save the others by doing the same,” Erdoğdu told reporters.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala was reportedly among those who tried to calm the tension after the brawl, approaching the CHP’s deputy parliamentary group chairs.
The unruly scenes mirrored those in parliament late on Feb. 17, when five deputies were injured - including two who suffered head injuries inflicted by a ceremonial gavel in the General Assembly hall.
Opposition parties, strongly opposed to the government-driven security bill, earlier this week vowed to stop the draft text from coming to the parliament floor by resorting to delaying tactics such as presenting motions on unrelated subjects.
Turkey’s opposition fears that the bill will effectively create a police state under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.