A spat between two MPs in the Turkish parliament turned into a scuffle as some MPs tried to attack others.
An exchange of words between the MPs started when an MP for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said, during the talks with the budget commission, that Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), was “a terrorist.”
“He’s a terrorist. He’s a scumbag without honour,” yelled MP Olcay Kılavuz.
Hüseyin Kaçmaz, an MP for the HDP, reacted to Kılavuz by saying, “It’s you who are terrorists.”
While Olcay Kılavuz and some of his fellow MPs rushed to the defence of HDP representatives, including Garo Paylan, one of the first Armenian representatives in the Turkish parliament for decades, others intervened to stop the scuffle escalating into a fight.
After the incident, Paylan addressed the commission members, noting that such incidents could serve to bring fascism into parliament.
“I’ve been here for seven years and this is the first time we’ve been physically attacked,” he said. “If you don’t prevent these kinds of incidents, you may end up bringing fascism into the parliament. We’ll do everything in our power to stop people who are trying to bring fascism into the budget commission.”
The legislatures in the European Union and the United States have been recently discussing including a network of MHP affiliated organisations, also known as ‘the Grey Wolves’, into the list of ‘terrorist organisations.’
MHP affiliated armed groups had murdered thousands of people in the 1970s in Turkey, and had been the perpetrator of massacres like the Maraş Massacre in 1978, when more than 180 Alevis and ‘left sympathisers’ were killed in the city of Maraş.
The MHP appeared as one of the firmly established political parties after the 1980 military coup and enjoyed relatively strong popular support, sometimes reaching well over 15% of the vote in elections.
The pro-Kurdish HDP’s co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, has been imprisoned for five years despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights calling for his immediate release. It indicated that his arrest was based on political motivations, lacking any legal basis.