World Bulletin / News Desk
Republican People's Party (CHP) Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün, who was released 48 hours after he was kidnapped by militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants on Sunday, was at the Tunceli Prosecutor's Office on Thursday, where he testified as a “plaintiff.”
Kadir Merkit, who was with him on the day of his abduction, was also at the courthouse. In addition to his plaintiff status, Aygün will testify as a witness, recounting what he experienced during his abduction. Merkit and Deniz Tunç, two men whom Aygün convinced the militants to let go on the day of the abduction, had testified to the prosecutors earlier.
Aygün, a popular politician in Tunceli, attracted some ire when he said he had been treated well by seven militants, who he said were very respectful. Some government members and other deputies, including those of his own party, accused him of propaganda in favor of the PKK.
The reason why the PKK chose to kidnap Aygün in Tunceli, a CHP stronghold, is still not clear, but it is clear PKK did not expect such strong public reaction as shown after Aygün's abduction. Thousands, including pro-Kurdish civil society groups as well as members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) -- which has been accused of having links to the PKK -- gathered on Monday to protest Aygün's abduction, shortly after which the PKK announced he was going to release the deputy immediately after the “detention procedure” was completed.
CHP Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba, who was one of the five CHP deputies who went to Tunceli after the news of Aygün's abduction broke out, defended his fellow party member regarding his statements saying, “Our deputy was held hostage for 48 hours. Nobody knows what he went through, but everybody is making comments, directing criticisms. He said he is proud to be a member of the CHP and he spoke in favor of peace. He said this ‘conflict' should come to an end. It is really sad to see different kinds of criticism being made.”
However, criticism continued. Deputy head of the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) parliamentary group Mehmet Şandır, who spoke to journalists at a meeting of his party's Erdemli district branch in Mersin, said, “We were all saddened by Mr. Hüseyin Aygün's abduction and we blamed the government for its failure to ensure the safety of the deputy,” but said Aygün had spoken in favor of the PKK. “Mr. Hüseyin Aygün's statements are clear, he tried to make the PKK, which massacred 40 to 50,000 people in 28 years, look cute. This is pro-PKK propaganda. What kind of action will Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu [CHP leader] take against this deputy?” he asked. He said the abduction and its aftermath served to prove that the CHP was not sincere in its stance against the PKK:
Aygün responded to the criticism on Thursday. In an interview published on ntvmsnbc.com, he said he believed his statements were in fact supported by most segments. “It is impossible to see [the young people] as we see [PKK commanders] Murat Karayılan or Bahoz Erdal. There are kids in there who've never been in clashes,” Aygün said, adding that these young people wanted to return home and lead normal lives. “There's much that politics as an institution can do to make them come home to their families and live normal lives as we do.”
He also denied claims that the CHP administration was upset by his words. “Tomorrow night [Friday], I hope to meet with our chairman if he agrees, I will continue politics in the CHP.”
However, he did agree that his views were his personal opinions that did not reflect those of his party. “If I had said the classic [phrases of patriotism] motherland, nation, our land, our flag and ezan [call to prayer], these segments that are now criticizing me would be very happy. I am being accused because I said, ‘peace,' because I said, ‘brotherhood.' I can't believe this and I find it saddening.”