Turkish President Erdoğan urges gov’t to abolish private security

Turkish President Erdoğan urges gov’t to abolish private security

Vahap Munyar
Turkish President Erdoğan urges gov’t to abolish private security The government should replace all private security guards with police forces, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said April 1, a day after a hostage rampage where a prosecutor and his two captors were killed.

“I will propose to my friends [the government] that they abolish private security guards altogether [from public institutions]. Most of them are already retired,” Erdoğan told daily Hürriyet in an interview aboard a plane returning from Bucharest to Istanbul.

“Private security organization should be reconsidered. The government will most probably discuss this issue. I believe it would be a historic decision. Maybe I could say this as a piece of advice. Turkey has a Police Department. It should establish protection teams in courthouses. Private security forces should be abolished. It is a question of who founded these security guard firms in many places, how and for which reasons. This should be examined,” said Erdoğan. 

Two militants with alleged links to the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol, took Mehmet Selim Kiraz, the prosecutor in the controversial case of the killing of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan, hostage on March 31. Kiraz succumbed to injuries incurred during the long hostage drama while police forces also killed Yayla and Doğruyol after riddling them with bullets.

Debate on searching lawyers

Erdoğan said lawyers should also be subjected to body searches before entering courthouses after Yayla and Doğruyol allegedly entered the Çağlayan Courthouse wearing lawyers’ robes.

“I have always defended the idea that lawyers should be searched. Other politicians have always attacked us when we voiced that. All officials, including lawyers, should be searched before entering courthouses. When you intervene against those who wear [judicial] robes, then the main opposition reacts. The private security guards [in the courthouse] take this issue from the same perspective, most probably,” Erdoğan said.

There were a total of 270,845 private security guards as of April 1, 2013, in Turkey, according to statistics released by the Police Department.

Turkey’s Police Department also employed a total of 269,898 officers from all ranks as of 2014, according to statistics on its official website. This number was 263,709 in 2013. A total of 256,904 of these personnel work in security services, while 12,994 work in the service sector within the directorate.  

The Turkish president said private security guards should be replaced at many institutions such as courthouses, hospitals and football stadiums.

“Not only in courthouses, but stadiums and hospitals should be left to police [instead of private security],” said Erdoğan, while alleging that there were “mafia activities” at hospitals.

Criticising opposition

Erdoğan also criticized main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on the grounds that he used the death of Elvan for political means.

“You [Kılıçdaroğlu] were the one who said ‘Berkin Elvan was going shopping on that day [when he was shot by a tear canister during the 2013 Gezi protests].’ Do you have any evidence which shows that he was going to buy bread on that day? We have released all the evidence of the police. He had a slingshot and was among the terror organization [DHKP/C]. But he [Kılıçdaroğlu] still continues to abuse this incident,” the president added. 

Erdoğan also criticized the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over its statement about theoperation. “They have conveyed condolences for the two terrorists along with our prosecutor. We are working for the peace process. … Could those who voice condolences for terrorists contribute to the peace process?” Erdoğan added.

“We express our profound sadness at the results of the incident at the Istanbul Courthouse and extend our condolences to the families of prosecutor M. Selim Kiraz and Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol, who were killed in the operation. We wish to express our incredulity at how an operation, which resulted in three bodies … being removed from the courthouse can be presented as a ‘success,’” the HDP said in the statement that drew Erdoğan’s ire.