Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Sunday denied a statement by Speaker of Parliament İsmail Kahraman saying that he invited CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to a meeting between autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and party leaders but that Kılıçdaroğlu had preferred not to participate.
President Erdoğan met with Prime Minister Binali Yldırım, Nationalist Movement Party leader (MHP) Devlet Bahiçeli and Parliament Speaker Kahraman in the speaker’s office during the opening of the third legislative session of the 26th Parliament in Ankara.
“It is not befitting of the speaker of parliament to lie,” said a statement issued by the CHP parliamentary group, DHA reported. “The statement claiming that our chairman [Kılıçdaroğlu] was invited to a meeting in the office of the speaker of parliament is not true. Mr. Chairman was neither aware of the meeting nor was he invited,” the CHP said in the statement.
According to the statement, Kahraman apologized to CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu by calling him on the phone.
Meanwhile, Turkish President and Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Erdoğan reacted pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members who did not participate in a ceremony for the start of the new legislative year in Parliament, saying their place is the headquarters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Sunday.
“You know, their place is Qandil [mountains in northern Iraq],” said Erdoğan in response to reporters’ questions about the HDP’s protest of the new legislative year ceremony in Parliament.
HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir last week said the HDP decided not to attend the opening of Parliament on Oct. 1 but instead would gather in front of Edirne Prison, where HDP Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş is jailed.
Responding to Erdoğan in front of Edirne Prison, HDP Co-chairperson Serpil Kemalbay said that “We are here to show that we do not accept that nine of our deputies have been taken hostage. Our presence here at the same time means defending the honor of Parliament.”
“The chairman of the AKP has said that our place is Qandil. The chairman of the AKP wants to get rid of the opposition. But we, pioneers in the struggle for democracy, will not allow the chairman of the AKP to realize his this dream.”
Demirtaş, along with HDP Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and seven other HDP politicians, was detained on Nov. 4, 2016 and ultimately arrested on charges of terrorism.
There are currently 9 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey after the ruling AKP government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. (SCF with turkishminute.com)