Politicians from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) responded defiantly after a spent bullet was thrown at the MP Hasan Özgüneş during a public appearance in Cizre in the southeastern province of Şırnak.
Video footage from the event on Saturday shows an object striking the MP on the stomach. After examining the missile to find it is a bullet, Özgüneş holds it up to onlookers and tells the nearby formation of police officers they “can’t frighten” the HDP and its supporters.
“Let it be known that this is not the first time we are receiving the message they sought to send us with this bullet,” Özgüneş later said in a tweet. “We’ve been subjected to these same threats for years.”
After the incident, the opposition-linked Halk TV news channel posted footage which some say shows the moment a police officer flung the bullet at Özgüneş, though the quality is not clear enough to present a clear view of this.
The Security General Directorate confirmed in a written statement on Sunday that the object was a spent bullet likely fired from a gun with a modified barrel, Artı Gerçek news site reported.
Saturday’s event marked the first year after Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government removed Cizre’s elected HDP-affiliated co-mayors and replaced them with its own appointed trustees.
The practice of replacing elected mayors in Kurdish-majority districts with government appointees became commonplace after the breakdown of peace talks between the Turkish government and Kurdish militant organisations in 2015.
After replacing many of the mayors elected in 2014 local elections, the government has repeated the same practice by replacing local governments elected in local elections in 2019.
In March, the Council of Europe condemned the imposition of government-picked administrations as a violation of international law, noting with concern “the fact that the government continues to suspend mayors when a criminal investigation is opened against them – based on an overly-broad definition of terrorism.”