Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said people who supported the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and voted them into parliament will be held accountable, according to a report by online news outlet T24.
The statement from Erdoğan came during the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 5th Ordinary Women’s Congress as he expressed sentiments on the recent deaths of civilians at the hands of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
”This state knows very well who to show compassion to and who to strike with an iron fist in a velvet glove,” Erdoğan said.
HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli in a press release on Saturday warned that Erdoğan was “building an empire of fear” by promising to punish those who voted for it in the country’s last elections. “Tayyip Erdoğan once again threatened millions of HDP voters,” said the co-leaders of the third largest party in parliament.
“Erdoğan’s remarks and threats are legally and politically unacceptable. Such statements clearly threaten 6 million HDP voters and with their families, 20 million people,” the HDP co-chairs said.
The HDP co-chairs said Erdoğan’s threats against them were meant to divert attention from the “grave” course the economy was taking and “dirty bargains” in foreign policy, implying Ankara’s ever-worsening ties with its Western allies, chiefly the United States.
Ankara accuses HDP politicians of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interests of the PKK. The Turkish government has implemented a crackdown on the HDP since a July 2016 coup attempt, which intensified as Turkey headed to the polls in the June presidential and parliamentary elections. According to the HDP, over 10,000 of its members are in jail, along with nine parliamentary deputies, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, and about 100 elected mayors.
Demirtaş, detained for two years now over accusations of terrorism and separatism, ran against Erdoğan in the June 24 presidential election garnering 8,4 percent of the vote from behind bars and with almost zero coverage from the mainstream media.