Turkey’s parliament adopts legal shield for soldiers, village guards in anti-terror fight

Turkey’s parliament adopts legal shield for soldiers, village guards in anti-terror fight

Turan Yılmaz/Rıza Özel - ANKARA
Turkey’s parliament adopts legal shield for soldiers, village guards in anti-terror fight

DHA photo

A bill providing a legal shield to senior members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) involved in anti-terror operations has been approved by the Parliament late June 23 in spite of vociferous opposition from some opposition parties.

As part of a last-minute motion tabled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), temporary village guards and voluntary guards will also be granted a legal shield. 

Security forces will all now be accorded “legal protection” from any compensation cases that are opened against the army in connection to possible abuses in the anti-terror fight, particularly in the southeast.

During plenary session debates on the government-sponsored bill late on June 23, scuffles broke out between lawmakers from the AKP and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish issue.

Eventually, the plenary session went into a recess due to the fight in which deputies from the main opposition Republican People’ Party (CHP) intervened.

During debates over the bill amending the TSK Personnel Law, HDP Siirt deputy Kadri Yıldırım took the rostrum and noted that operations had been launched in predominantly Kurdish-populated provinces and districts for the past year. 

“After the houses in which operations were conducted were destroyed, there has been no attempt to shy away from writing sentences like ‘Girls, we came, you weren’t here,’ in houses, on women’s underwear and on walls. While fighting against a race, to which race’s woman did His Holiness the Prophet Mohammed, one of his commanders, or one of his conscripts act with such despicableness?” Yıldırım said.

“I believe that there is need to be more careful while saying this. We all have families, spouses, daughters and brides,” he said, adding that intimating the “conquering” of Kurdish provinces does not serve fraternity, unity and togetherness. 

“In Said-i Kurdi’s words, there are three important features of the Kurds which need to be protected. These are Islam, humaneness and nationalism. Islam and nationalism are two inseparable ingredients,” he said.
A deputy parliamentary group chair of the AKP, Bülent Turan, then took the floor and argued that Yılrırım’s remarks did not befit the assembly.

“I don’t approve responding to this language. However, the soldier and the police as well as the [village] guard are ours. They don’t do things like what has been said. Otherwise, the institution would take measures. I consider bringing such unclear issues here … into an environment in which ladies are present is immoral,” Turan said.

HDP Tunceli deputy Alican Ünlü subsequently walked over to the AKP seats, as AKP Trabzon deputy Salih Cora walked to the HDP seats.

As the skirmish resumed, Deputy Parliament Speaker Akif Hamzaçebi called a recess to the session. Following the break, legislators from the AKP and the HDP again engaged in a skirmish that desceneded into a fistfight.