The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has attacked an opposition lawmaker over his remarks calling Turkey a “murderer” state, saying he would not be alive if that had been the case.
“If the Republic of Turkey had been a murderer, the place where you are today would not be the Turkish Parliament but a cemetery,” MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli told Ahmet Şık, a lawmaker from the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) and a former journalist.
Bahçeli’s remarks came at a meeting of his party on Tuesday, one day after prosecutors launched two separate investigations into Şık due to his “murderer” remarks about Turkey.
A statement from the prosecutor’s office said on Monday that Şık’s remarks in which he said, “This state is a murderer… We need to destroy this state… Yes, the state of Turkey is a murderer state. And let me say this openly, if the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] and this government bloc are patriots and I am a terrorist, I’d prefer to be called a ‘terrorist’ to being a patriot like them,” prompted the investigations.
Şık did not step back from his comments following the launch of the investigations, tweeting: “If I’m to be criticized/stand trial due to my remarks calling the state a murderer, this should be done because I made an incomplete statement. Because the state is a murderer who commits serial killings. There is no state that has no stain on its hands.”
The prosecution of members of parliament has been possible since the CHP and the MHP lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling AKP on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution.
Şık was elected to parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2018. He parted ways with the party in May 2020 and served as an independent deputy until April 2021, when he joined the TİP.
An outspoken critic of the AKP, Şık was held in pre-trial detention for 14 months. He was arrested in December 2016 as part of an investigation targeting journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet daily on terrorism charges, which sparked widespread outrage over press freedom.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in November 2020 that Turkey violated Şık’s right to liberty and security as well as his right to freedom of expression and ordered Turkey to pay him compensation.
In March 2011, under AKP rule, Şık was arrested on charges of membership in the Ergenekon terrorist organization along with journalist Nedim Şener. They were both released in March 2012.