Turkish police intervene in protest of Corlu derailment victims’ families

Police officers on Wednesday used rubber to disperse a protest by families of the 25 people, who lost their lives in train derailment in Turkey’s northwestern Corlu province in July 2018, according to a report by T24 news portal.

The police reportedly used rubber bullets to move the peaceful protesters away who wanted to make a press statement in front of the Constitutional Court in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

The families were protesting the verdict of non-prosecution previously given by the Corlu Chief Public Prosecutor Murat Yigiter and the lawsuit that has been filed against only four personnel of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) regarding the incident.

Turgut Kurt, Ozkan Polat, Cetin Yildirim, and Celaleddin Cabuk, the four employees of the TCDD who are charged with “reckless killing and injury,” will have their first hearing on July 3.

The controversial verdict was given for the chief conductor, engine drivers, senior officials and bureaucrats who were suspected to be responsible for the incident on July 6, 2018.

Misra Oz Sel, the mother of the nine-year-old victim Oguz Arda Sel, previously told reporters that they appealed to the Constitutional Court for the rescission of the chief prosecutor’s verdict.

“We will hold another ‘watch for justice’ in front of the Constitutional Court [in Ankara] because the one we held in Corlu fell on deaf ears,” Sel added.

Due to police intervention with rubber bullets, the protesters made their press statement in front of a park nearby.

The harsh intervention caused victim Oguz Arda Sel’s grandfather to feel faint. He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance soon after.

“We will continue revealing this unlawfulness [the verdict] at the courthouse on the street, at squares and everywhere where we can make our voices heard until the day when those who are really responsible [for the train accident] are found and penalized as they deserve,” the families said in the statement.

“I lost my mother and my father at the train accident. Do you think that I won’t call those [who are responsible for the accident] to account for it?” Ismail Kartal also said.

“Do you really suppose that we can stay silent about this? Millions of people support us. We will not be silent, you won’t be able to silence us,” he added.

Among the protesters were the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Baris Atay, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Izmir deputy Atilla Sertel, CHP Ankara deputy Gamze Tascier and former CHP deputy Aylin Nazliaka.

Professor Adem Sozuer, one of the founders of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), criticized the political authorities in Turkey and argued that their discourse paves the way for violent police interventions.

“The real reason behind what went down there [in Ankara] is the statement of ‘break their legs and put the blame on me’,” Sozuer argued, referring to the remarks of the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu last year.

During a speech in January 2018 at a public meeting on security in Ankara, Soylu ordered police officers to break the legs of drug dealers who are seen outside schools.

“If a dealer is near a school the police have a duty to break his leg. Do it and blame me. Even if it costs five, 10, 20 years in jail – we’ll pay,” he vowed.

Sozuer held forth that violent police interventions such as this can be averted if political figures urge police officers to be more attentive while doing their job rather than ordering them to engage in violent deeds.

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