Turkish President Erdoğan says his Kurdish rival Demirtaş deserving of death penalty for role in 2014 protests

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and jailed HDP Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a Sunday rally criticized jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş, saying he would have approved reinstatement of capital punishment had parliament passed such legislation in response to the crowd calling for Demirtaş’s execution, the T24 news website reported.

Erdoğan accuses Demirtaş of responsibility for the deaths of 53 people during street protests in 2014. “This man [Demirtaş] is under arrest now? Yes, that’s all. Indeed, the judiciary must make its decision as soon as possible,” Erdoğan told a crowd during an election rally in Kocaeli on Sunday.

Supporters responded to Erdoğan by chanting “Execution! Execution!”

“As I said before, if parliament has had voted to bring back the death penalty, I would have approved it immediately,” Erdoğan replied.

Refusing calls for Demirtaş’s release to enable a fair presidential election, Erdoğan in the eastern province of Adıyaman said on June 1: “Who are you releasing? The person in jail [Demirtaş] has the blood of 53 citizens on his hands.”

DEMİRTAŞ DEFIES ERDOĞAN OVER KOBANİ, DEATH PENALTY REMARKS

THE HDP’S Demirtaş on Monday challenged President 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.

“Neither me nor the HDP has ever been sued over the deaths that occurred during the Kobani protests,” Demirtaş tweeted on Monday with the heading “Erdoğan’s Kobani lies.”

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 at the parliament 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.”

Demonstrations began in Turkey’s Southeast in reaction to efforts by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants to besiege Kobani, a Kurdish town in Syria. The protests later morphed into fierce clashes between pro and anti-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) groups in which 53 people were killed.

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)

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