ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Lawmakers from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were attacked, and two were wounded during a Wednesday session at the Turkish Parliament when one of them accused the government of engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurdish people in Syrian Kurdistan’s Afrin.
MP Mahmut Togrul of Gaziantep Province had his left arm broken, and his fellow Muslum Dogan of Izmir was kicked in the chest by a large group of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers, the latter said.
“The rhetoric ‘we will give Afrin to its rightful owners’ and announcements to settle refugees [in Turkey] there, is a plan of demographic change in a Kurdish-populated region; it is called ethnic cleansing,” Togrul had told the assembly during a speech.
“Kurds live in Afrin for a millennium. It is called ‘Kurd-Dagh’ (Kurd Mountain). You cannot resettle someone from Aleppo, Idlib, and Raqqa in the houses and lands of the people of Afrin,” he said, referring to Sunni Arab-populated cities of Syria.
Togrul said the Turkish army was bombarding civilian areas, leading to hundreds of casualties during its invasion of Afrin that began on Jan. 20. He cited a report by Amnesty International last month.
His words led to an uproar among AKP lawmakers who after the speech began moving toward HDP seats.
“About 40 of them started madly coming toward us. They began punching me and others. I fell to the ground, and they continued to kick us,” Togrul said during a press conference on Thursday, Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau reported.
The scuffle ended after other lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) intervened.
He said the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was trying to silence his party through what he called lynching.
“I was seriously beaten. I went to the hospital and received a medical report that I cannot work for 45 days,” the MP said.
At the presser, he added that MPs Garo Paylan and Behcet Yildirim also received blows.
President Erdogan has continued to say that once his army’s “Operation Olive Branch” is completed he will give “Afrin back to its rightful owner,” a phrase he has repeatedly used in his claims that the area “belongs to Arabs.”
“At least 150,000 maybe 200,000 people will go back,” he told a convention at his Ankara palace.
Earlier this week, the HDP warned that Turkish intentions were in contravention of international law and amounted to a war crime according to the Geneva Conventions.
The US, Russia (which gave the green light for Turkey’s invasion), the Syrian state, the UN, or independent human rights organizations have not commented on Turkish pronouncements regarding demographics of Afrin.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany