President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he is declaring a national mobilization against all terror organizations in the aftermath of twin bomb attacks in İstanbul on Saturday that claimed the lives of 44 people.
“I am appealing to all my citizens here. As head of the Turkish Republic and in line with the 140th article of our Constitution, I am declaring a national mobilization against all terror organizations, be it the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)], FETÖ [a phrase coined by the government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization] or Daesh [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)], no matter what method or discourse they employ,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday.
The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the PKK, on Sunday claimed responsibility for twin bomb attacks that took place outside a football stadium in the Beşiktaş district, which also injured more than 160 others.
The president also said there is not the slightest reason in Turkey that will excuse any group from resorting terrorism to seek their rights.
“In no country of Europe can you find the chance to seek your rights through democratic channels [like is the case in Turkey]. [Terror organizations’ search for] freedoms, democracy, things like that is just a myth. You can never find this tolerance anywhere else,” said Erdoğan.
TAK’s attacks came as Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast while Turkish courts in November arrested 10 pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies including the party’s co-chairs. Two more HDP deputies were also arrested on Tuesday, bringing the total number of arrested HDP deputies to 12.
Turkey has also arrested dozens of local Kurdish politicians on terrorism charges.
The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.
Erdoğan is also waging an all-out war against the Gülen movement, which it accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.
Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, and the movement having denied the accusation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
More than 120,000 people have been purged from state bodies, in excess of 90,000 detained and over 39,000 have been arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian. Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.