Turkey’s Interior Minister verbally attacked two female MPs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Saturday, accusing one of them of being a tenured member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The most recent war of words between the minister and the Kurdish politicians started after Remziye Tosun, a deputy of the HDP, took off her white cotton traditional headscarf (tülbent) in the parliament two days ago.
Tosun recalled Kurdish women who traditionally throw their white headscarves on the ground to stop violent fights among men.
“I am throwing my tülbent here, to this place where the decisions of war are made, hoping an end to the conflicts, an end the isolation system in prisons, and for an honourable peace coming to this geography,” she said, calling for the government to end operations against Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and northeast Syria.
Arzu Erdem, a deputy of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), called Tosun’s act a “vulgar show of provocation”. Meral Danış Beştaş, HDP’s parliamentary group deputy, responded to Erdem, explaining the traditional roots of Tosun’s act once more.
“We are facing a mentality that sanctifies war to such an extent that it calls this act vulgar. We have our tülbent to throw on the ground and the will to establish peace,” Danış Beştaş said.
The Kurdish politician said that the HDP had nothing to fear. “On that issue, you have turned into a war machine with legs,” she told the members of the parliament. “We are coming across a new Süleyman Soylu everyday,” she added, referring to the minister.
“Do you know who is the enemy of the Kurds,” Soylu said in the parliament, in response to Tosun and Danış Beştaş. “They are the PKK and the HDP who hand over a Kalashnikov to a 10-year-old child,” he added, referring to the automatic rifle named after its original Russian designer.
“Do not look innocent. Everybody knows whom you have abducted, whom you have sent to the mountains, how mothers curse after you and hate you,” Soylu continued, without explicitly saying which Kurdish politician he was referring to.
The minister then directly attacked Tosun: “This is what I want to say, Remziye Tosun is only and only a tenured staff of the PKK. This is the case according to all the records of the state,” he said.
Following Soylu, Danış Beştaş once again spoke in the parliament, claiming that the minister referred to her when he said “do not look innocent”.
“My glance is innocent, or, in other words, I am not guilty, why should I look guilty,” Danış Beştaş said. “I do not have many faces like you. I have only one face,” she added.
“We expect you to act like a minister. You instead are vomiting here over us. You in haste declared me and Remziye Tosun criminals,” the Kurdish politician said, adding that mothers in Turkey’s southeast called the minister the biggest enemy of the Kurds.
The tensions between the deputies of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the HDP escalated in recent weeks, as Ankara started airstrikes against Kurdish groups in northeast Syria, accusing them of orchestrating a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul last month.
Those tensions have turned into verbal arguments during ongoing 2023 budget debates in the parliament, as the government repeatedly announces plans to initiate a ground invasion into mainly-Kurdish controlled territories in northeast Syria, while the PKK accuses the Turkish military of using chemical weapons in northern Iraq.