Youth organizations, politicians and party leaders have spoken out against the killing of a student during a clash between supporters of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at İzmir-based Ege University on Friday, calling for cooler heads to prevail.
Tensions ran high at Ege University late on Friday when two student groups affiliated with the MHP and the outlawed PKK began fighting each other with sticks and knives. Two students were critically injured in the brawl while another suffered slight injuries.
Ambulances and riot police were dispatched to the university after the clash and the two students were immediately hospitalized. One of them, Fırat Yılmaz Çakıroğlu, died at Ege University Hospital while the other, Nurullah Semo, is still receiving treatment for life-threatening injuries at Tepecik Teaching and Research Hospital. Çakıroğlu was a leading member of Ülkü Ocakları, a youth organization affiliated with the MHP.
Ege University’s administration announced a three-day mourning period commencing on Feb. 23 over Çakıroğlu’s death. MHP youth organizations across Turkey offered funeral prayers in absentia throughout Turkey. CHP youth organizations in İstanbul observed a minute of silence for Çakıroğlu on Saturday when they gathered for another event in İstanbul’s Taksim Square.
Çakıroğlu’s father, Fuat Mahir Çakıroğlu, said his son was a final-year history student and was about to graduate in four months. Accompanied by deputies and leading figures from various parties at his son’s funeral in İzmir on Saturday, Çakıroğlu said his son was attacked because he was Turkish. “I voted for the [main opposition Republican People’s Party] CHP, my son was from the MHP. So is it a crime to be [a member of the] MHP?” the father said.
Çakıroğlu was buried in the Bayraklı Cemetery following a ceremony that was attended by thousands.
MHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural, MHP İzmir deputy and Deputy Chairman Ahmet Kenan Tanrıkulu, İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu, and CHP İzmir deputies Mehmet Ali Susam and Aytun Çıray were present at the funeral, held in İzmir’s Bayraklı district on Saturday.
Ülkü Ocakları President Olcay Kılavuz said Çakıroğlu was the head of the organization’s members at Ege University. The young man was killed by supporters of the terrorist PKK, Kılavuz added.
The MHP also said on its official Twitter account that “Çakıroğlu was killed by pro-PKK traitors” and offered its condolences for his death.
Seven people were detained on Saturday over the killing of Çakıroğlu. The police launched an investigation into the incident and identified those who were involved in the bloody clash after examining camera footage at the university. They also issued a detention order for Semo, who remains hospitalized.
According to sources, the police found five knives at the site of the clash at the university.
MHP leader Bahçeli calls for restraint after killing of Çakıroğlu
In a written statement on Saturday, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli called for restraint following the killing of Çakıroğlu on Friday.
“We are determined to maintain our common sense and calmness although our sorrow is great and our complaint is justified,” Bahçeli said. Stating that the MHP will not fall into the trap of a planned “bloody circle,” Bahçeli called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)-PKK terrorism to stop playing with fire.
“If we arrive at the very point where words are useless, the Nationalist Movement cannot be held responsible for the possible events,” Bahçeli said. “With these thoughts, I call on my friends to act with restraint and to be careful against the AK Party-PKK trap,” he added.
Speaking at the MHP İzmir provincial headquarters, MHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Vural said the PKK is terrorizing students in universities while the AK Party and provincial administrations turn a blind eye.
Vural said they have spoken out in Parliament against these violent and provocative activities of the PKK and submitted complaints to police departments in various provinces but no action has been taken. “While students holding Turkish flags were attacked, the PKK is organizing festivals in universities holding up photos of the head of terrorism [Abdullah Öcalan],” Vural added.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş also spoke up against the killing of Çakıroğlu on Saturday, calling on students to be careful of such incidents.
“You cannot say that a person is not valuable just because he is from the MHP. He is a young man; he has a mother, a father. Although an ember burns where it falls, I am sure that the whole country is concerned over such incidents. The HDP would also like to make a call to prevent such incidents. We advise all youths to be careful,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, MHP leader Bahçeli and many other leading figures have called the Çakıroğlu family to extend their condolences.
Photo: Today’s Zaman, Oğuzhan Köse