Turkish PM Erdoğan: All responsible for removal of flag will pay

Turkish PM Erdoğan: All responsible for removal of flag will pay

Turkish PM Erdoğan: All responsible for removal of flag will pay

Turkey's President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan (L) pose in the cockpit of an assault helicopter named "ATAK", during a delivery ceremony of helicopters to the Turkish Armed Forces, in Ankara June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Ayhan Arfat/President's Press Office/Handout via Reuters

Those responsible for the removal of a Turkish flag from a mast inside an Air Force base in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır will pay for it, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, accusing both the perpetrators and local military officials. Five people involved in the incident were detained on June 10 as part of the investigation launched by the local police forces.

“A terrorist jumps over the barbed wire and enters the military post, and realizes this cowardly act,” said Erdoğan during his weekly address to his party’s parliamentary group in Ankara.

“The necessary inspection and probe into the issue will be made, and those who acted in negligence will be called to account for it. Two of them have already been removed and sent to other places. Some have been detained.  Administrative inquiries will be launched into public officials,” he said.

A masked demonstrator was photographed climbing a flagpole in the 2nd Air Force Command in Lice on June 8, after jumping over the surrounding walls following protests after the burial of a demonstrator killed by Turkish soldiers during an intervention in a road block. Since the photo spread, the rhetoric over the incident has toughened and the military has come under fire for not intervening to prevent the protester.  

“You should catch those who take down the flag and do what is necessary. Otherwise, you are also responsible,” he said in reference to the officials

“Should I come down from Ankara to catch the one who takes down the flag? The resolution process here is not [an excuse]. You must do what’s necessary,” Erdoğan added, as he described the move an attempt to “stir up trouble across the country.”

The prime minister also accused a host of opposition forces - from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the movement of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (BDP) - of seeking political benefit from what he described as a “planned action.”

“The scenario is clear. If that pawn had been shot, the terrorist organization and the HDP would provoke the masses. If he succeeded in carrying out this vile act, you know that the removal of the flag would be used as an opportunity by the MHP, the CHP and the media. The traitor was not neutralized and the removal of the flag is now being used as an instrument of hate,” Erdoğan said.

“During a process through which we proceed on a knife-edge, through which vultures are waiting to ambush [us], as the 77 million [nation], we will not fall into this trap of tension, this trap of exploitation. Nobody should associate these actions with my Kurdish brothers and sisters. Neither the HDP nor the terrorist organization represent my Kurdish brothers and sisters,” he added.

“This country has not only been fighting terrorism for 30 years, but also this dirty mentality. This country is fighting with blood barons who converted the death of poor children into a means of profit, of subsistence. For them the best Kurd is a dead Kurd and the best Alevi is a dead Alevi. They have never been on the side of life. They have never been on the side of the solution,” he said.

Also commenting on the road blocks in Diyarbakır, which have been triggering daily clashes between the supporters of the PKK and the security forces, Erdoğan said “both the police and the gendarmerie should bring those bandits, those terrorists into line,” adding that inspections into local officials will be launched over the issue.