HDP’s Baydemir: Not surprised if Turkish main opposition leader arrested

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şanlıurfa deputy and party spokesperson Osman Baydemir on Thursday said it would not be a surprise if Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), were to be arrested, DHA reported.

“People are arrested for the crime of criticizing the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP and criticizing [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan. Do not be surprised if Kılıçdaroğlu is arrested. Frankly speaking  I would not be surprised,” said Baydemir in a statement during the “Justice Watch,” which was launched by the HDP last month as part of a series of events protesting the arrest of Kurdish deputies.

Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan slammed Kılıçdaroğlu on Tuesday for recent remarks to German Focus magazine warning tourists against travel to Turkey and said that “he will pay the price.”

Erdoğan had also implied that Kılıçdaroğlu could be detained or brought before a court to testify during a “March for Justice” that the CHP leader had initiated in June in protest of the arrest of a CHP deputy, Enis Berberoğlu.

Staunchly pro-government Yeni Akit daily columnist Mehtap Yılmaz in a Monday article called for the arrest of CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu and three CHP deputies.

Accusing Kılıçdaroğlu of “explicitly committing crimes,” “serving the Middle Eastern goals of the European Union by defaming his country” and “supporting putschists,” Yılmaz said the CHP leader has to be thrown out on his ear and put in jail.

“Justice Watch” will continue until Nov. 4, the anniversary of the detention of HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş along with eight other party deputies.

There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey after the ruling AKP government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians last fall. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges.

The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.

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