Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Monday said pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş was deserving of the death penalty for his role in 2014 protest deaths, on Tuesday called Demirtaş the “top terrorist,” the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
Targeting Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce during an election rally in Eskişehir province, Erdoğan said: “For example, what does this man [İnce] think about Turkey’s fight against terrorism? What can you expect from a person [İnce] who visited top terrorist [Demirtaş] in Edirne Prison?”
Erdoğan also said he received intelligence that almost all the attendees at İnce’s election rally in Diyarbakır were HDP supporters.
Accusing Demirtaş of responsibility for the deaths of 53 people during street protests in 2014, Erdoğan at an election rally in Kocaeli on Sunday said Demirtaş was deserving of the death penalty, saying he would have approved legislation immediately if the Turkish parliament had voted to bring back capital punishment.
Demirtaş on Monday challenged Erdoğan over remarks he made on the “Kobani protests,” during which 53 people died, and capital punishment, saying he has never been sued over the deaths in the Kobani protests.
Correcting the number of people killed to 43 including 33 HDP supporters, six Free Cause Party (HÜDA PAR) supporters, two Syrian refugees and two security force members, Demirtaş said: “During the five months following the Kobani events, our meetings with Erdoğan and [his ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP over the settlement process [to resolve the Kurdish problem] continued. In other words, Erdoğan continued to meet for five months with us, who he now labels ‘terrorists’.”
Demirtaş also said 12 motions submitted by the HDP for investigation of provocateurs and instigators of the Kobani incidents were rejected by AKP votes in parliament.
The HDP’s candidate ended his flood of tweets with a call to Erdoğan: “O Erdoğan! This is the biggest opportunity in political history: I will withdraw my presidential candidacy if you can put the call you claim I made for the killing of 53 people below this tweet by June 24.”
DEMİRTAŞ REACHES OUT TO PEOPLE, THIS TIME BY WHATSAPP
Meanwhile, Demirtaş, who has been in pretrial detention in Turkey since November 2016, has again reached out people, this time with a WhatsApp voice message on Tuesday.
In a voice message shared on Twitter by HDP deputy Ziya Pir, Demirtaş said his morale and health had been given a boost by positive news coming from the outside and called on people to participate in the election campaign.
Turkey will hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.
In a development unprecedented anywhere the world Demirtaş on Friday held a news conference on Twitter.
Turkish and foreign journalists asked their questions to Demirtaş, who is currently jailed in Edirne Prison, from their Twitter accounts in Turkish, Kurdish and English. The questions were relayed to Demirtaş by his lawyers who then posted the presidential candidate’s answers on his Twitter account.
On June 6, Demirtaş addressed the Turkish people in a speech delivered from prison via a telephone call he made to his wife, Başak.
“Good morning, everyone. I think this is the first time in the world that a presidential candidate will deliver a campaign speech from prison. I will address you from the social media accounts of the HDP at 11 a.m. today. See you later,” a message said from Demirtaş’s Twitter account, which was posted by his lawyers.
A video clip posted on the social media accounts of the HDP shows Başak Demirtaş in her house welcoming family members, including her husband’s parents.
Then, Demirtaş calls his wife and begins delivering his 10-minute-long campaign speech.
Many, including his rivals Muharrem İnce, Meral Akşener and Temel Karamollaoğlu, have been calling for Demirtaş’s release during the presidential campaign so the election can take place in a democratic environment and under equal conditions for all presidential candidates.
However, a request for the release of Demirtaş from jail in the run-up to the June 24 presidential election was rejected by an Ankara high criminal court on May 21.
On May 29, Demirtaş’s lawyers applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court for his release.
Demirtaş ran against Erdoğan in the 2014 presidential election and lost. However, he has remained one of the most popular political figures in Turkey.
Demirtaş was the HDP’s co-chairperson when he was jailed on Nov. 4, 2016 along with several other party deputies as well as the party’s other co-chairperson, Figen Yüksekdağ. (SCF with turkishminute.com)