Turkish PM criticized BDP, not hunger strikers: Arınç

Turkish PM criticized BDP, not hunger strikers: Arınç

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM criticized BDP, not hunger strikers: Arınç

Arınç also says a legal arrangement allowing defense in courts in a language one thinks he would express himself best in and a 13-article democratization package improving prison conditions has been submitted to Parliament. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The prime minister did not criticize the inmates staging hunger strikes in prisons, but rather targeted lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in his parliamentary speech Nov. 13, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said yesterday, while an independent lawmaker started hunger strike in support of the hunger strikers.

Leyla Zana, who was elected from Diyarbakır in 2011, started her hunger strike in her office in Parliament.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), meanwhile, warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to abandon his “polarizing and insulting language.”

“Our prime minister addressed the lawmakers of the BDP, but at the same time they called on hunger strikers to give up their strikes. His parliamentary group speech was for politicians and BDP lawmakers,” Arınç told reporters yesterday in Ankara.

Erdoğan commented on the ongoing hunger strikes Nov. 13, describing the strikes as “another method for warlords to make political profit,” in his speech at his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.

“Their aim is not for their demands to be met; their aim is to create chaos and escalate the tension. If there’s a problem related to their conditions, then it’s our duty to resolve it. But if they are demanding something not related to them, it is blackmail that we will not accept. Their aim is to harm the environment of stability, peace and safety of Turkey,” Erdoğan said.

Meanwhile, Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission will recess until Nov. 19 following the BDP’s appeal for a break.

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek yesterday warned BDP deputy parliamentary group chair İdris Baluken that if a party misses three commission sessions without giving an excuse, it will be deemed to have left the commission. Afterward the BDP appealed for a recess due to ongoing hunger strikes.

Still, it’s not clear whether the charter panel will convene after Nov. 19, as the BDP previously announced that they would withdraw from all parliamentary work until the end of the hunger strikes. Despite their appeal for a recess, the BDP signaled that they would continue charter work by submitting their proposal for the legislation chapter of the Constitution.

BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan said they would attend the debates at Parliament’s Human Rights Examination Commission as well as the Justice Commission on the law proposal allowing the use of mother tongue in courts.

Polarizing language
CHP deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu said it was unfortunate that Erdoğan had maintained his polarizing and offensive language over the hunger strikes. “This language is not constructive or consolidative. The prime minister ignores the problem. He should give up using this language, and he should remember previous incidents,” Tanrıkulu said, referring to the dozens of inmates who starved to death in hunger strikes protesting Turkey’s F-type prison system in 2001.

Over 700 inmates are currently staging a collective hunger strike in 67 Turkish prisons, demanding an end to the isolation of the convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. Öcalan’s lawyers have not been allowed on İmralı island for the last 15 months. The protesters also demand mother tongue education and an end to restrictions on the use of their mother tongue, Kurdish, in courts. Today is the 64th day since the start of the strike, and seven lawmakers from the BDP also joined an indefinite hunger strike in Diyarbakır over the weekend.