Row over Atatürk heats up at charter commission

Row over Atatürk heats up at charter commission

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Row over Atatürk heats up at charter commission

BDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder (3rd L) comments on Atatürk create tension in the charter committee meeting. AA photo

Squabbles marred Parliament’s Internal Affairs Commission during a debate on a draft bill on metropolitan municipalities, after Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker Altan Tan said that not everybody should be obliged to like the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The commission was yesterday debating a draft resolution submitted to Parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last week. According to the draft bill, new districts will be formed in new metropolitan municipalities and 52 non-metropolitan cities. Furthermore, towns with populations of less than 2,000 will cease to exist as separate legal entities.

Lawmakers from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have slammed the draft bill. MHP lawmaker Nevzat Korkmaz claimed that the bill aimed to disintegrate Turkey by strengthening the metropolitan municipalities. “The MHP is against this bill which serves the political objectives of the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and would harm Turkey’s unitary structure,” he said.

The CHP’s Birgül Ayman Güler, for her part, argued that the bill would pave the way for administrative federalism in Turkey. “This draft law is a part of the AKP’s presidential system project,” Güler said.
BDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder rebuffed the CHP and BDP lawmakers, saying “Do you have to say ‘Kurds will benefit from this amendment’ to oppose this draft bill. Your point of view will divide this country.”

When Önder said Atatürk’s motto “Peace at home peace in the world” arose from that era’s necessities, the CHP and MHP lawmakers accused him of insulting Atatürk. “Atatürk was the biggest genius of the century, why would I criticize him?” Önder said in response.

Wading into the discussion, BDP deputy Altan Tan said: “Nobody is obliged to like Atatürk.”
Korkmaz harshly reacted to this, calling on Tan to leave the commission room. “You don’t have the right to speak ill of Atatürk under this roof. You must go out if you insult Atatürk here,” he said.

The commission chair decided to call a recess when he was unable to calm the lawmakers down.