Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chairman of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said on Friday that his party does not represent the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkish politics, although they are exerting efforts to bring the PKK to the negotiating table with ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Speaking with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) on Friday, Demirtaş criticized the recent arrest of Diyarbakır Co-mayors Gülten Kışanak and Fırat Anlı of the HDP, saying, “The AKP government is trying to seize the Diyarbakır Municipality by appointing trustees and arresting its mayors since they are not able to beat the HDP in local elections.”
Demirtaş also underlined that he is facing an investigation for calling on people to resist the AKP’s unlawful actions. “Kurds have already been alienated by the state ideology in Turkey, and the AKP’s policy of appointing trustees to municipalities run by pro-Kurdish parties will only consolidate that,” he said.
Stating that the HDP has never been the political wing of the PKK, Demirtaş noted that he has always been against violence and arms and has furthermore supported ways of solving the decades-old Kurdish problem at the negotiating table.
According to Demirtaş, it was President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who torpedoed the negotiating table in order to save his own rule, and he is a politician who can take the risk of throwing his own country into the fire for fear of losing power.
“I don’t think he will abandon his stance [of not starting a fresh settlement process for the Kurdish problem] in the near future since he acts like a mad politician who is taking his country to war in the Middle East,” he said.
In 2012 the PKK leadership and the AKP government started a settlement process to solve Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish issue, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 40,000 people. While arms were almost silenced for three years, President Erdoğan declared that the settlement process had ended after two police officers were executed in Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.
Since then, the Turkish government has declared a state of emergency in southeastern provinces and districts and destroyed scores of neighborhoods in order to flush out PKK militants hiding there. As the fights between Turkish security forces and PKK militants escalated, hundreds of police and gendarmes and thousands of PKK terrorists died in the clashes.