The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and National Movement Party (MHP) coalition on Feb. 1 blocked a proposal by the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) that called for an investigation into the deaths of civilians by government-operated armored vehicles.
AKP Antalya Deputy Kemal Çelik reacted against the HDP over the motion, saying: "Accident, accident, these are accidents. Have you never had an accident?”
He also accused the opposition party of benefitting politically from the incidents.
In the last two decades of the AKP rule, and especially since the breakdown of peace talks between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the subsequent operations of the Turkish military in Turkey's eastern Kurdish regions, dozens of civilians have died after being hit or run over by armored vehicles. Most recently, a young child and a young man both died after being hit; the young child was found “at fault” in the accident.
Most of these incidents occur in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish cities near the Syrian border, such as Mardin, Diyarbakır, and Şırnak.
HDP Şanlıurfa Deputy Ömer Öcalan cited before Parliament that between 2008 and 2022, a total of 141 people, 22 of them children, lost their lives in 93 incidents with armored vehicles. Öcalan cited in his proposal the urgency of investigating these incidents.
AKP MP Çelik, who spoke on behalf of the party, told Parliament that armored vehicles in the country’s eastern regions were part of the “fight against terrorism.”
“Thankfully, we have brought peace and trust to the region by fighting terrorism with our domestic and national industry and armored vehicles in order to rid the region of terrorism. We have brought peace and security to the region. The armored defense vehicles you are worried about brought success and the end of terrorism to this region,” Çelik said. He added that the accidents indicate how “difficult” these anti-terrorist operations are.
HDP Group Deputy Chairman Saruhan Oluç responded to Çelik.
“It's not about an operation. Armored vehicles on the streets hit children and young people, and children and young people die. We are talking about the uncontrolled use of armored vehicles in cities,” he said.
The proposal was rejected with votes from the ruling AKP and MHP coalition.