Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again targeted an opposition lawmaker who recently criticized the Turkish military for its alleged involvement in controversial actions, calling him a “so-called lawmaker and the worst kind of terrorist,” the Diken news website reported.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, also a lawyer and a human rights activist, attracted the ire of Erdoğan, his government and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) when he said during a TV program on Sept. 8 that the TSK is not immune to criticism and that there are many incidents in which it was involved in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast that remain shrouded in mystery.
Erdoğan, who spoke at an event at the presidential palace in Ankara on Thursday, referred to Tanrıkulu as a “so-called lawmaker and the worst kind of terrorist,” without mentioning his name.
He said the government and the judiciary have to teach him a lesson.
The first time Erdoğan targeted Tanrıkulu due to his criticism of the Turkish military was earlier this week, when he said his remarks would “not go unpunished.”
The Defense Ministry also strongly denied the lawmaker’s allegations, saying they were “entirely baseless and devoid of truth.”
Tanrıkulu also attracted criticism from within the CHP with the party’s spokesperson, Faik Öztrak, calling his remarks as “unacceptable,” while party chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu described the TSK as the “apple of the nation’s eye” when asked to comment on the lawmaker’s remarks.
“We are members of parliament, we question these matters,” Tanrıkulu said on the TV program, referring to the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, politically motivated and unsolved murders in the 1980s and 1990s and the Roboski massacre, when 34 Kurdish civilians were bombed by Turkish military jets after they were mistaken for militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near the Turkish–Iraqi border in 2011.
It is frequent for people in Turkey to face charges of insulting the president, the government, the military or other government organs for voicing criticism of them.
Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry gave approval for an investigation into the CHP lawmaker after the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office filed a summary of proceedings for Tanrıkulu and asked for the ministry’s permission to investigate him.
He will be probed on accusations of insulting the Turkish military under the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which requires a prison sentence of up to two years. The investigation into the lawmaker could also deprive him of his parliamentary immunity.
Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç also hinted earlier this week that Tanrıkulu’s parliamentary immunity could be lifted.
The prosecution of members of Parliament has been possible since the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution. The immunity of all deputies who faced prosecution was lifted in May 2016.