Bahçeli criticizes Diyarbakır Bar Association for blaming gov’t about fatal fire

Turkey’s nationalist MHP’s chair Devlet Bahçeli criticized the Diyarbakır Bar Association for pointing out the government’s late response to the fire that claimed 15 lives and wreaked havoc across a 66-km area in the Turkish southeast.

Duvar English

Chair of Turkey’s government-ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli on June 25 accused the bar association of the southeastern Diyarbakır province of criticizing the government’s responsibility in the fire that claimed 15 lives, during a parliamentary group meeting. 

Bahçeli blamed the bar association for “using the fire as an excuse to reveal their potential hatred and disclose their malice,” calling it “a certified opponent of Turkey and an adversary of national unity.”

The Diyarbakır Bar Association’s statement outlined the extent of the damage and criticized the delayed arrival of extinguisher helicopters and the old electrical infrastructure that caused the fire. 

Bahçeli found the statement “sharp and seemingly commissioned,” saying it “should not be overlooked."

The Diyarbakır Bar Association responded in writing to Bahçeli, saying they "cannot remain silent about the accusatory and targeted expressions." 

Recalling that the Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against those who insulted Kurdish identity and posted hate comments online after the June 20 fire in Diyarbakır. 

The statement continued,

"With the criminal complaint, the aim was to initiate legal proceedings against those who revealed their hatred and disclosed their malice, to ensure that such hateful and discriminatory language does not go unpunished, and to contribute to societal peace and a culture of coexistence by preventing similar statements in the future.”

Against Bahçeli’s claims, the bar association held that its language was that of law and justice; its statements were the product of its institutional stance in line with its historical position; and its goal was to contribute to the construction of a fair and peaceful societal living order.

Following the fire, the bar association issued a statement in collaboration with the Diyarbakır Urban Protection and Solidarity Platform. The statement revealed the number of deaths, injuries, and the extent of environmental destruction in the area.

The bar association also noted that aerial response was late to the fire, causing the high death toll. Furthermore, the initial investigation suggested that the fire was caused by electrical lines, and the lines in the area were set up in 1987 and had not undergone regular maintenance and repairs in the last 37 years.