CHP leader calls on gov’t to investigate drone claims

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Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu delivers a speech at a meeting on the occasion of the party's 94th foundation anniversary in Ankara on September 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Sunday called on the government to clarify claims that civilians were being killed in attacks by armed drones instead of making accusations against CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the T24 news website reported.

“We want the incident be responsibly clarified instead of making it a special accusation about Sezgin Tanrıkulu. It should be clarified. If those [people killed by armed drone] were terrorists, they should present the evidence,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, speaking to NTV.

An investigation was launched by the CHP’s Tanrıkulu on Friday immediately after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the deputy for saying that civilians were being killed in attacks by armed drones.

Tanrıkulu is accused of insulting the government of the Turkish Republic with his statements about civilians killed by armed drones.

“One representative of the main opposition party appears and makes a statement about armed drones. He claims they shot civilians. Where are the civilians? Drones are killing terrorists. Our armed forces will continue their fight against terrorism and terrorist organizations. CHP representatives cannot stop it,” Erdoğan said on Friday, adding that he would expect the CHP leader to question whose side Tanrıkulu is on.

Following Erdoğan’s remarks accusing Tanrıkulu of supporting terrorists, the CHP deputy responded to Erdoğan in a tweet and said he had shared the names of the civilians killed by armed drones on Twitter. Tanrıkulu said in his message Erdoğan might be attacking him because of a sense of guilt.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) recently released a report on the killing of one civilian and the wounding of three others in a drone attack in Hakkari last week, asking why drones were used when the villagers, under suspicion of supporting a terrorist group, could have easily been detained.

The HDP team met with witnesses and included their accounts in the report, which in conclusion asked why villagers accused of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were able to pass through the Depin checkpoint just before the attack even though they underwent an identity check. The report asked why these people were not detained at the checkpoint and why armed drones were used when there was a possibility of catching them.

The report said one of the villagers who heard the sound of the attack informed other villagers, and they carried two wounded people to the hospital. In the meantime, Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced that four militants in Hakkari were neutralized, while local sources said four villagers who were having a picnic were attacked by drones, which led to the death of one and seriously injured the other three.

The Hakkari Governor’s Office released a statement on Sept. 1 claiming that they were civilians cooperating with the PKK.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had on Sept. 2 said mistakes could be made in the fight against terrorists.

“What we understand from Süleyman Soylu’s statement is that the security forces can kill anyone during operations. No investigations will be launched in those cases. That is to say, Soylu has issued a blank check for civilian killings,” said HDP deputy Ziya Pir during a press conference broadcast on the HDP’s Twitter account on Monday.

The Turkish military started using armed drones against PKK guerrillas last year.

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