Turkish political parties draft joint declaration against Egypt executions

Photo: Turkish political parties draft joint declaration against Egypt executions / Turkey

Political parties in Turkish Parliament drafted a joint declaration against an Egyptian court's decision to sentence hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members to death, Today's Zaman reported.

The move came after squabbles between ruling the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and opposition parties over the issue. The AK Party started drafting a joint declaration that will represent all parties in Parliament , after the main opposition Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) alleged that the ruling party didn't express support for the CHP's proposal to issue a joint declaration from Parliament.

During a plenary session on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler said the AK Party has been working on a declaration that criticizes and condemns the death sentences handed out in Egypt. He said the AK Party doesn't approve of the Egyptian court's decision and will continue to speak out against the execution rulings.

The AK Party's declaration draft will be submitted to opposition parties and, after they agree on the content of the declaration, the text will be read in Parliament.

The ruling party's move to draft the declaration came after CHP deputy Akif Hamzaçebi accused the AK Party of not expressing support for his offer to issue the joint statement in Parliament against the death sentences in Egypt. But AK Party İstanbul deputy Belma Satır claimed that Parliament's plenary session had closed before the preparation of the joint statement could be made.

An Egyptian court convicted 529 members of the MB, of which ousted President Mohammed Morsi was a leading figure, on March 24 and sentenced them to death for the murder of one policeman and an attack on others in one of the largest mass trials in the country in decades, news agencies have reported. The Egyptian court's decision, which came after a two-session trial, has triggered criticism from governments and rights groups around the world.

In the plenary session on Tuesday, Hamzaçebi spoke about the court decision and called on members of Parliament to stand against the death penalties.

"I... issue a call to the all political parties. As the Turkish Parliament, let's stand against the death penalties in Egypt and convey to the Egyptian Parliament that these penalties are not right. ... This call would be very important in regards to democracy. I want everybody to support this," Hamzaçebi said while addressing deputies in the Parliament.

Speaking after the plenary session, Hamzaçebi told the Hürriyet daily that the AK Party didn't support his call. He said he viewed the ruling party's silence as a negative response to his proposal. He reportedly said the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) Oktay Vural announced in Parliament that his party will support the proposal. Hamzaçebi, however, said hadn't seen any reactions from the AK Party.

However, Satır took to Twitter and denied Hamzaçebi's claim: "Mr. Hamzaçebi and [CHP deputy] Mr. Sezgin Tanrıkulu made the joint statement bid to [AK Party Deputy Chairman Nurettin] Mr. Canikli and the plenary session closed before the preparation of the statement. As deputies and as a group, we [the AK Party] stated our reaction to the death penalties in Egypt via different channels." She added that Hamzaçebi had mislead the public.

Hamzaçebi posted tweets in response to Satır's remarks, saying he had made his proposal during the plenary session and not just during a chat.

"When I made the proposal ... it was around 3:30 p.m. However, it was after 7 p.m. when the Parliament [plenary session] closed. Those who speak to the contrary are not telling the truth," Hamzaçebi said.

He also shared a link to a video of him calling on Parliament members to issue a joint statement . He shared the minutes of the plenary session via Twitter as well.

A CHP deputy who monitors human rights violations, Levent Gök, called Parliament's Human Rights Investigation Commission to convene over the Egyptian court's execution decision. Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan also condemned the decision, calling on all Turkish citizens to oppose "the wide-scale and cruel conviction," in a press conference at Parliament on Wednesday.

Protesters across Turkey condemn Egyptian execution orders

Meanwhile, rallies protesting the Egyptian court's decision to sentence hundreds of MB members to death took place in numerous Turkish cities on Wednesday.

Large demonstrations mostly organized by youth branches of the AK Party were simultaneously held in Turkey's major cities of İzmir, Antalya, Gaziantep, Adana, Şanlıurfa and Kahramanmaraş as well as other Anatolian cities, including Kütahya, Bolu, Yozgat, Nevşehir, Çorum, Tokat, Denizli and Kilis.

Protestors across the country wore shrouds to protest the ruling. Demonstrators held banners condemning the Egyptian court's decision and symbolic gallows were even set up in city centers to protest the execution decision. Statements read by protestors calling for the withdrawal of the execution decision as well as the release of the detained MB Morsi supporter. Protestors flashed the "Rabia" sign, a symbol of the anti-coup protests in Cairo, and chanted slogans supporting Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader.

The demonstration in Tokat was organized by the Felicity Party (SP). Demonstrators there gathered after the noon prayer and called on Muslim leaders to do what is necessary to stop the executions.

Demonstrators also started a petition demanding the Egyptian court take back its ruling. The signatures will reportedly be sent to the office of the Egyptian mufti.

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