CHP deputies' controversial remarks against 'yes' voters taken as attack on democracy

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 03.04.2017 22:36
Updated 03.04.2017 22:37

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Hüsnü Bozkurt threatened those in favor of the constitutional amendment, saying, "no one should get carried away if the referendum results in a 'yes' win. We will once again hunt you down starting from Samsun, all the way to İzmir [referring to Turkey's War of Independence against European powers]." Referring to the "yes" voters as enemies of Turkey, CHP Deputy Bozkurt's remarks drew strong criticism from the government and "yes" voters, while the chief public prosecutor in Ankara launched an investigation into Bozkurt's controversial remarks. Speaking over the weekend on a private television program, the CHP's Konya deputy said he believed that the "no" vote will win as he further stressed that no one should become eager if the referendum results in a "yes" win.

Claiming that the percentage of votes has "no meaning," the CHP's Bozkurt stated that they are the "owners" of the country regardless of who the public supports. "Our greatness cannot be scaled to the votes we get, we are Kemalists, Republican, and we are revolutionist. Even if the majority of votes are 'yes',' no one should get carried away. We will once more start from Samsun and hunt you down all the way to İzmir," he added. The CHP deputy's reference in his remarks made against the "yes" voters comes from Turkey's war of independence that followed World War I. Bozkurt then referred to those in support of the change as enemies of Turkey.

In addition, former chairman of the CHP and current Antalya deputy, Deniz Baykal, said they will celebrate April 16 as if it were Turkey winning its war of Independence in the case of a "no" vote majority.

He further threatened the citizens in support of the constitutional amendment and said "we will drown your entire generation in İzmir's sea."

Bozkurt also threatened President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) by saying that "you will perish away just like Gadhafi, Saddam, Hitler and Mussolini did."

Commenting on his remarks, Bozkurt told the Turkish newspaper, Sabah, that he expects the outcome of 60-65 percent for the "no" vote while he said, "I am behind my words… let the investigation be done."

Responding to the CHP deputy's statements, President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım strongly rebuked Bozkurt yesterday. Erdoğan said in Rize yesterday the people will give the "best response" in the April 16 referendum. "A main opposition deputy has come out saying they will throw the 'yes' voters into the sea. What kind of vulgarism is this? Who do you think you are? They won't let you take a step, what do you think of the people?" Erdoğan said.

The president also slammed CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for not taking a strong stance against the deputy. Analogous to Erdoğan, Prime Minister Yıldırım rebutted Bozkurt saying, "Do not cross the line."

Commenting on Bozkurt's recent statements, political scientist Mustafa Altunoğlu from Anatolia University told Daily Sabah that Bozkurt was confronting a certain social group by making "friend-enemy discrimination." Drawing attention to frequent words used by Bozkurt in his remarks such as "us" and "them," Altunoğlu said "Bozkurt is clearly contradicting the relatively moderate language that was anticipated to be used by the CHP during the referendum campaign. This kind of speech reminded us of the CHP's attitude in the 1990s."

Altunoğlu further noted that "By using the enemy image, he is trying to prevent Turkey from being governed by the Turkish nation's own will. For this reason, he invited all to fight against the changes." In the midst of Bozkurt's outrageous remarks, Ankara prosecutors yesterday launched an investigation into the CHP deputy over provoking public enmity during televised remarks. Turkish Penal Code Article 216 prescribes prison terms of one to three years to "any person who openly provokes a group of people belonging to a different social class, religion, race, sect, or coming from another origin, to be rancorous or hostile against another group" and thereby threatens public safety.

Cem Duran Uzun, a constitutional lawyer and director of Law and Human Rights at the SETA Foundation noted that the CHP had revealed its "true face" and that it was trying to hide throughout the referendum campaign to "scare-off" the AK Party supporters. He further emphasized that Bozkurt's remarks will influence the "undecided" voters that were leaning toward the "no bloc" as he said it will increase the AK Party's "yes" votes.

"If the coup is staged, then prove it," government tells CHP leader

CHP Chairman Kılıçdaroğlu met with the bureau chiefs of newspapers and television channels yesterday as he claimed that the July 15 coup attempt could have been a "controlled coup attempt."

"If you are hiding the lists [showing the alleged list showing deputies using ByLock, which is a communication application used by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ)], then you are not a real prime minister. Then you are not really combating FETÖ. If you are hiding the list then you are enhancing the notion that the July 15 [failed coup attempt] was a controlled coup d'etat."

Both President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım strongly rejected claims yesterday made by the main opposition leader. Erdoğan called on the CHP leader to show the documents regarding the issue.

"If you have a document, then elucidate it. It will not benefit you if you show it after April 16, thus do it now," Erdoğan said.

The prime minister also criticized Kılıçdaroğlu over his statements of a "controlled coup d'etat," during a meeting with tradesmen in Ankara yesterday. "Nobody can insult the [Turkish] nation, prove your claims," Yıldırım said as he called on Kılıçdaroğlu to provide proof.

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