This statement was written in order to inform the public regarding some events that happened on 6 December 2013, Friday during Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey)’s dinner and talk in London entitled “Nation State Crisis in Turkey: New Scenarios, Problems and Struggle Agenda” and to which Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) Group Deputy Chairman Dr. Oktay Vural attended as a speaker. These events have been widely published on various mass media channels and social media.
Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey is a UK based utterly independent think-tank. It has no organic connection to any political party, interest group, business group and/or Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). The Centre considers academic criteria in the research and policy articles it publishes in both Turkish and English languages, and also aims to form a democratic platform that is open to everyone and on which various opinions and thoughts could be voiced and discussed. With respect to this goal, Group Deputy Chairman of MHP, Dr. Oktay Vural was invited to London to participate at a series of conferences. In this respect, Dr. Oktay Vural has given two speeches followed by Q&A sessions; one on 4 December 2013, Wednesday in the House of Commons Committee Room 10 and entitled “Turkish Foreign Policy within the Context of ‘Axis Shift’ Debates” and the other on 5 December 2013, Thursday in King’s College London (KCL) and entitled “Where is Turkish Democracy Heading?: Problems, Challenges, and Prospects”. On 6 December 2013, Friday, in a public dinner and talk, Dr. Vural made a speech (in Turkish) in the same format entitled “’Nation State’ Crisis in Turkey: New Scenarios, Problems and Struggle Agenda”. During the initial part of his talk, an attendee among the audience started verbally abusing Dr. Oktay Vural. Despite the verbal warning of the chair of the talk telling her “(to) wait for the end of the talk when there is going to be a Q&A session during which she can voice her opinions”, this attendee insisted on not listening to the speaker and continued with her verbal abuse. In the expense of other attendees right to listen to the speech, this person walked at the speaker with the aim of stopping the conference and stated by yelling that she would not let this conference go on. She insisted on sabotaging the event by shouting at everyone, in spite of other attendees’ calls for her leaving the venue and the chair’s numerous warnings to her saying that the conference will not be stopped and she should either listen to the speech or if she does not want to do so; then she shall leave the venue. Furthermore, this person started threatening the speaker and the other attendees in the restaurant and tried to provoke and threaten everyone inside by using statements, some which were also published, like “I will start a war from here”, “if you touch me you cannot leave here alive”, “all of you go to hell”, “why don’t you throw forks at me”, “You cannot speak in UK or stay here whilst I am here”. As she continued her threatening against the owner of the restaurant who told her that the venue is a private property and if she was to continue her provocative actions she has to leave the venue; the police was called into the restaurant. This attendee was taken out when police officers arrived and was let go free by the police after being interviewed and her identification procedure was completed. After this attendee left, the conference went on and was completed without a single incident after the Q&A session.
We see this act to be provocative and made for personal demonstration purposes and would like to share our reasons for doing so with the public. First of all, the subject matter person insisted on sabotaging the event despite the fact that she was told that she could comment and/or ask whatever she wants during the Q&A session and showed that her intention was mere provocation. The same person attended conference on 4 December 2013 in the House of Commons Committee Room 10 and did not cause any trouble; she even managed to talk to Dr. Oktay Vural and tell him about her problems and her wish to return to her hometown Bingol to become an English teacher there and asked for Dr. Vural’s help. Just two days after this meeting which was in the frame of mutual respect; the sabotaging efforts of the same person against the speech on 6 December 2013 saying that she would not let Dr. Vural speak in the UK whilst she is here and yelling in order to provoke the other attendees cannot be considered justifiable. Despite this, as in all of Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey’s conferences, this attendee was told to wait for the Q&A session and follow the conference rules. Although she did not leave the venue and went on threatening by yelling at people in order to sabotage the event, there has been no physical intervention against her and she was not taken out against her own will before the police arrived. The subject matter person continued her provocative acts until police arrived. Although, as the venue was on private hire we had the right to remove this person from the venue using “reasonable force” according the UK law, there has been no physical movement against her. The subject matter person continued her provocative actions despite the demands from the rest of the audience telling that “she shall leave if she is not going to listen to the speech”. The police officers asked us why we had not taken her out using “reasonable” force and told us that this was the organisers’ duty and right. The police also stated that if the aforementioned person tries to re-enter the venue after being removed, she would be arrested. It was told to police that this is an academic conference and since our priority is to let everyone join the discussion and be able to ask questions we tried to convince the aforementioned person to wait till the Q&A session but we had to ask her to leave as she insisted on sabotaging the event. It was clearly stated that we had no complaints apart from her threats and sabotaging of the event and our main goal is to organise these conferences open to everyone and make sure that everyone can voice their opinions in the Q&A session within the conference rules without insulting anyone and respecting personal rights.
We would like to announce to the public that we consider this event to be a personal demonstration and provocation due to reasons stated above. We respectfully and politely request that this event shall not be made into a reason for abuse and not be considered in a way that could hurt or provoke our citizens of Kurdish origin, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members and this party’s supporters. We would like to remind that the aforementioned person is not a representative or spokesperson of any person or society and that using this kind of events in political polemics will not contribute into resolution of Turkey’s significant problems but rather will help the purposes of this “personal demonstration”. We would like to thank our speaker Dr. Oktay Vural and all our other guests for their prudent attitude against the aforementioned person despite all her provocation efforts and threats. The visual materials of the conference that cover the whole event will be shared with public and the authorities if requested/needed.
Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey will continue to be a platform on which differing opinions and thoughts could be voiced and discussed, organising events with representatives of various groups with different views and opinions for the advancement of culture of debate and its principled publication concept that prioritises academic criteria. We respectfully state to the public.