Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Erdoğan, who is also chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), slammed both the country’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in strongly worded remarks and accused them of siding with separatist terrorist organizations as well as Turkey’s enemies.
According to a report by the pro-government Hürriyet Daily News on Sunday, Erdoğan, speaking to AKP members on Sunday at a weekend retreat in the Kızılcahamam district of Ankara, said, “It is not possible for us to consider the HDP a legitimate political actor,” and accused the party of being the political arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The CHP is also siding with the enemies of Turkey, including terrorist organizations,” Erdoğan claimed. “What they are doing can never be called opposition. It can only be called ignominiousness,” he added.
President Erdoğan also sent a warning to the HDP ahead of the country’s 2019 municipal elections that any candidate ”affiliated” with the PKK would be replaced by his government.
Erdoğan’s government has removed from office more than 80 of the 103 elected mayors representing the HDP and replaced them with government-appointed trustees as part of a crackdown on the HDP for its alleged ties to the PKK following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
While vowing to do away with Turkey’s terrorism problem, Erdoğan said: “The municipal elections are approaching. If the names of people who are associated with terrorism emerge from the ballot boxes once again, we will do what’s necessary and assign state-appointed administrators immediately.’’
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has demanded the revocation of the immunity from prosecution of 15 deputies from opposition parties last week on accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda and insulting President Erdoğan.
The prosecutor’s demand was sent to the Justice Ministry for submission to the Parliament Speaker’s Office. If the parliament votes to revoke the deputies’ immunity, they can be arrested by local courts.
Among the 15 deputies, 12 are from the HDP and were the subjects of prosecution for disseminating terrorist propaganda due to their criticism of a Turkish army offensive in the north Syrian town of Afrin. Afrin was previously run by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a militia that is considered by Turkish authorities to be affiliated with the PKK.
The other three are from the CHP, whose remarks were considered insults of President Erdoğan. Thousands of Turkish citizens, including former deputies, have been punished by the courts on that charge.
The Turkish government accuses HDP politicians of harboring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the PKK and has carried out a crackdown on the HDP since the July 2016 coup attempt that 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 some 100 elected mayors. Demirtaş, detained for two years now on 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.
The HDP surpassed the electoral threshold of 10 percent in the June parliamentary elections, receiving 10,76 percent support and winning 59 seats. The HDP is expected to fare well in the upcoming elections in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated Southeast.