Turkish parliamentary panel questions rounds of plastic bullets shot by police at demonstrator
Turan Yılmaz – ANKARAThe head of a parliamentary commission has demanded information from the Ankara Governor’s Office and police regarding dozens of plastic bullets that police recently fired at a demonstrator who has led a long campaign to be reinstated in his job.
Human Rights Commission head Mustafa Yeneroğlu, who is also an Istanbul lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said he asked for the information immediately after viewing footage of Veli Saçılık being subjected to plastic bullets at close range.
Saçılık, a sociologist who was dismissed from his post with a state of emergency decree, has been carrying out a protest to demand that two jailed educators on a hunger strike be released and reinstated in their jobs and that he be returned to his job.
Turkey declared a state of emergency after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, which was widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and has been issuing decrees ever since that have led to the suspension and dismissal of thousands.
Educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who were among those dismissed with decrees, have been on a hunger strike for over 90 days.
Recent footage showed Saçılık, who lost his arm in a military operation known as “Operation Return to Life” that was conducted in December 2000, in 20 prisons across Turkey to end hunger strikes staged by inmates in protest of newly built prisons with solitary confinement cells, being hit by plastic bullets even though he was unarmed.
Yeneroğlu previously filed a complaint in order to investigate a woman’s allegations of mistreatment under detention in Istanbul.
His move came after reports of Bergül Varan’s mistreatment by police officers after she was detained during a police raid on the İdil Culture Center in Istanbul’s Okmeydanı district on May 30.
Saying that there should be extraordinary sensitivity on the issue of torture, Yeneroğlu said that “it’s an absolute must for the struggle against terror.”
“Incidents like these are diluting the struggle against terrorism, which is a must for Turkey. These pave way for the terrorist groups and their collaborators to use these for their own propaganda purposes. That’s why everyone needs to have an extraordinary sensitivity toward torture and mistreatment,” Yeneroğlu told daily Hürriyet, adding that a complaint would be filed in line with the report prepared by the governor’s office and the police on the Saçılık case.
“We can all be detained. However, those detained are delivered to the state’s security forces and they are entrusted to them. If a security official doesn’t do this, then he is not fit for the job,” he also said.