ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Parliament of Turkey on Monday voted down a motion submitted by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to investigate the killings of civilians by the Turkish army in its invasion of the Afrin region of Syrian Kurdistan.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration denies the existence of any civilian casualties since the Turkish assault on the Kurdish region began late January, with some of his officials going so far as to claim that not even a “nosebleed” has been recorded.
HDP lawmaker Huda Kaya of Istanbul who asked the Parliament to conduct the inquiry was also shut down during her speech by Deputy Speaker Ayse Nur Bahcekapili.
Kaya, herself a conservative Muslim member of the left-wing party, was criticizing the Speaker Ismail Kahraman’s declaration of the war on Afrin as “jihad,” the holy war.
She called Turkey’s Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies a “horde of murderers,” likening them to the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda when Bahcekapili turned off the microphone she was using to address the assembly.
A quarrel between the Speaker, Kaya, other HDP lawmakers, and members of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) followed.
MPs from the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party voted to turn down the HDP motion.
“I cannot allow you to talk like that. You cannot claim that an entity fighting in the name of the Republic of Turkey is waging a dirty war and killing civilians,” Bahcekapili told Kaya.
“People in Afrin, those who sought safety in Afrin from brutality, violence, rape, and enslavement elsewhere are today again face to face with those committing massacres,” Kaya said during the televised session.
Head of AKP’s Parliamentary group Naci Bostanci accused the US-armed People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Coalition ally in fighting IS, of “being tools of imperialist policies.”
Kurdish officials, as well as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), put the number of people Turkish airstrikes and ground shelling have killed at over 200 and scores more wounded, with figures varying according to other sources.
Turkey has refused to observe a UN-mandated ceasefire that covers all of Syria.
Fears among people in the Greater Kurdistan and those in the diaspora have risen as Turkey’s campaign reached Afrin’s cantonal center where hundreds of thousands live.
The Turkish army on Monday claimed to have “neutralized 3,381 terrorists,” a designation Ankara uses for the YPG, but a view not shared by the US or any other country.
Government Speaker Bekir Bozdag said 42 Turkish soldiers were killed and 202 others were wounded during the offensive slowly making progress, with all of the border villages taken from the Kurds.
Erdogan has repeatedly claimed that Afrin belonged to Arabs and vowed to “give it back to its rightful owners.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany