May 02 2019

Viewers sceptical as Davutoğlu becomes latest AKP politician to prevent suicide attempt

Turkey’s former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Wednesday rescued a Turkish man from an apparent suicide attempt on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge, Artı Gerçek reported.

Duran Yıldırm, an unemployed and hearing-impaired man, was on the bridge for two hours when Davutoğlu arrived. The man who was about to commit suicide was wearing a t-shirt with the logo of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over his pullover, while using a Turkish flag as a cape.

Davutoğlu reportedly ordered his convoy to stop before stepping out to talk to Yıldırım, who was balanced on the outside of the railings, poised to jump. Eventually, Davutoğlu convinced the young men to give up the idea and the two hugged afterwards.

Many, however, found the timing of Davutoğlu’s heroics suspicious, seeing as the incident took place days after the politician published a long manifesto criticising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s policies.

The former prime minister, who was sidelined by Erdoğan in 2016 and resigned from office, said in a Facebook post on Apr. 22 that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) reformist, liberal ethos had been replaced in recent years by a more statist, security-based approach that was driven by concerns about preserving the status quo.

According to the reports in the Turkish media, Davutoğlu is preparing to announce the establishment of a new political party that will rival the AKP.

“Great symbolism: Davutoğlu who publicly criticised Erdoğan and is allegedly starting a new political party is playing the ‘messiah’ by rescuing an Erdoğan supporter who is about to commit suicide while wearing Erdoğan’s iconic jacket,” said one user on Twitter.

Turkey’s Demirören news agency, which is owned by a government-affiliated business, reported the suicide attempt on the bridge on Wednesday, but did not mention Ahmet Davutoğlu’s involvement in it. The news agency instead said the policeman on the bridge dissuaded the man who was trying to commit suicide, Karar newspaper said.

Video footage of the event was used as evidence by those on social media to prove the attempt was staged. Some said footage that showed Davutoğlu approaching the railings could only be a shot by a drone camera.

Others pointed out that this was the third time an AKP politician had prevented a suicide on the same bridge, which is now called the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge in honour of those who lost their lives during a failed coup attempt in 2016.

In December 2015, Erdoğan saved another person who was to commit suicide on the bridge by sending his bodyguards to talk to him. Vezir Çatraş then came beside Erdoğan’s car and kissed his hand to show his respect.

Çatraş this week was officially arrested in relation to a murder investigation in Istanbul, where he reportedly confessed he had killed a man for having an affair with his wife.

In 2018, it was former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s turn to stop a suicide attempt. “From now on, everything will be better, do not stress yourself,” local media recorded a tearful Yıldırım saying to another man who had climbed to the side of the bridge.