Turkish interior minister targets teacher who was beaten by police during demonstration

Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, targeted a teacher who was beaten by police officers on Monday during a demonstration, calling her a “terrorist,” the Duvar news website reported.

Betül Koca was beaten by the police during a demonstration staged by the Private Sector Teachers Union, where they demanded an improvement in working conditions. During the demonstration seven teachers and two lawyers were beaten and briefly detained. The detainees were released after police questioning.

The union defended Koca on Twitter and said they would not allow any of their members to be the victim of political polarization.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the police violence and detentions, saying they could not condone violence against teachers who were demonstrating for their rights.

Soylu responded to Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement on Twitter and said he should be ashamed for showing solidarity with sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “Aren’t you ashamed of defending a PKK supporter against the police?” he said. “This person [Koca] has repeatedly been detained for participating in demonstrations.”

Soylu accused Kılıçdaroğlu of using the CHP to support criminal organizations and creating polarization and chaos to attract attention for his presidential candidacy. He added that Kılıçdaroğlu was following in the footsteps of FETÖ, using the derogatory term the Turkish government coined to refer to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July, 15 2016 and labels a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

According to recent data from the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), Turkish police employed unlawful tactics including mistreatment and beating while detaining 13,935 people between 2018 and 2021.

In an earlier statement the TİHV said restricting or suspending the freedoms of assembly and demonstration was a way to narrow the scope of democratic citizenship and to gradually destroy democracy in Turkey

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