Parliament opens with ceremony of protests

Parliament opens with ceremony of protests

Parliament opens with ceremony of protests

AA Photo

The Turkish parliament opened on Oct. 1 for a short session before elections in one month’s time, but the event quickly became the scene of protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were not present at the session, which began with introductory remarks by Parliamentary Speaker İsmet Yılmaz. As Yılmaz announced Erdoğan’s entrance to the general assembly hall, the HDP deputies in the hall refused to stand up, as required by custom, and when Erdoğan began delivering his speech, all HDP deputies present left the hall in a show of protest. 

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli were also not present at the gathering. 

Kılıçdaroğlu had already stated that he would be traveling to Lyon in France on Oct. 1 as part of his election campaign and would therefore not be able to attend parliament’s opening ceremony. The number of the CHP deputies attending the opening was also limited. 

The leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting, made it to the opening after departing from the U.S. early on Oct. 1.

In his speech, Erdoğan criticized the HDP prominent co-chair without naming Demirtaş. “Some 50 citizens killed in Oct. 6-8 incidents that was sparked by a political party’s leader’s call which I consider irresponsibility,” Erdoğan said in reference to the Kobane insurrection, in which citizens across the country hit the streets to protest Ankara’s alleged support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Most of those killed died at the hands of the security services or far-right nationalists.

Without the naming HDP, Erdoğan said the party did not represent Kurdish people in Turkey. “They don’t represent my Kurdish brothers,” he said, adding that the Kurdish issue and terrorism were not the same. “Our struggle is not against an ethnic group, but against terror.”

Erdoğan in battle of words with lawmakers

Recalling that no political party had succeeded in winning a majority in the June 7 elections, Erdoğan said the process was a first in Turkey’s democracy but that necessities of the constitution were implemented even if a government could not be established.  

“Nobody can get out of responsibility attributing the reason for the political vacuum to either the president or to other places,” he said.  

As the MHP lawmakers reacted to the president’s remarks about terror, Erdoğan got into battle of word with deputies in the general assembly.

“Are you annoyed? Are you annoyed?” the president asked the lawmakers. 

MHP lawmakers asked the president if he could travel to southeastern Turkey.

“We traveled to that region several times. How many times have you visited? You weren’t able to establish party headquarters in those regions,” Erdoğan said. 

“You are novices in these seats. I know how and whom to address,” the president said.