Fresh fist fights erupted in the Turkish Parliament late on Wednesday with MPs from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) clashing with MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
MPs tried to push and punch one another, as others watched and attempted to restrain their colleagues. The incident has now delayed efforts to pass legislation on a migration deal with the EU and parliament has been suspended until next week.
The brawl erupted after an HDP member started to talk about a “massacre” that was carried out against Kurdish civilians by the Turkish army four years ago.
“I remember the civilians recently massacred by shelling in [the southeastern town of] Silopi,” Ferhat Encu, an HDP representative from the Sirnak province in southeast Turkey, told fellow MPs.
“I remember the 34 people, including children, who were brutally bombed by Turkish warplanes in Roboski four years ago.”
The highly controversial incident took place in late 2011 when a drone identified a group of 37 people crossing from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey. Ankara then scrambled F-16 jets to bomb the group, killing 34 people including 17 children, presumably believing them to be fighters from the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Subsequent investigations, however, revealed that the group was made up of villagers in southeastern Turkey who were using mules to smuggle oil, cigarettes, sugar and coffee – not weapons – from Iraq.
Several AKP MPs, however, firmly rejected Encu’s statement, calling him a PKK supporter and a “murderer”.
“You are despicable. You are a terrorist and a defender of murderers. You should be in jail,” AKP MPs were heard shouting in footage that has since appeared on local media.
Encu then responded by calling AKP MPs terrorists for their alleged support for the Islamic State group, which some Kurdish groups have long accused the AKP of supporting although the AKP government has fervently denied this and in recent months seriously stepped up a crackdown on the militant group.
A large fight last rocked the Turkish parliament in February when MPs clashed over a controversial police bill.