Turkish veteran throws prosthetic leg in protest
BURSA - Doğan News Agency
Veteran Selçuk Çelik has lost both his legs due to a land mine explosion while serving in the military in the southeast. DHA photoA veteran soldier who lost both legs during his time in the southeast staged an unusual protest when he removed his prosthetic limb and threw it toward other participants who had been arguing with him while attending a meeting on April 26 with guest speakers from the government-formed Wise People Commission.
A group had already left in protest at the arrival of the Wise People Commission members Levent Korkut, Hayrettin Karaman and Mustafa Armağan, and arguments began erupting between participants.
Veteran Selçuk Çelik, who had lost both his legs due to a land mine explosion while serving in the military in the southeast, began voicing criticism toward the ongoing peace process, saying, “There is no Kurdish issue in this country. Kurds have been presidents, prime ministers, business leaders. Why are they making it an issue now? If I gave my both legs, I gave them for the unity of this country. I lost both of my legs for the fight against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party].”
Çelik accused the recent process of aiming to “divide the country.”
Another veteran, Ümit Kaplan, was voicing support for Çelik’s statement when some of the participants warned him not to speak too loudly, at which point Çelik lost his temper and took out one of his prosthetic legs which he then toward the back of the room. Kaplan and Çelik left the room after the incident.
The arguments continued in the room, with one of the speakers, Efkan Özçimen, the president of a Roma group, highlighting the needs of other communities besides the Kurds.
“I am not Turkish, and I’m not Kurdish, I am a gypsy. So what now?” Özçimen said, adding that Roma people still suffered from high levels of unemployment and lack of proper housing.
“We haven’t said anything so far, we left it to Allah,” he said. “We are all religious brothers, religion should unite us all.”