Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has targeted members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and signaled new operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern region of the country.
Speaking at a meeting with mukhtars, or village and neighborhood heads, in northern Samsun province on Tuesday, Soylu said members of the HDP were against the operations and supported the PKK.
“Our people [security forces] are looking for them [PKK members] everywhere [in the region], and they run away like rats. We went to Lice. In that place alone nearly 7,000 of our children have started an operation. And new ones [operations] will be launched in the coming days. HDP [members] came to the scene of the operations with about 30 people talking about ‘human rights.’ We know our job,” he said.
The PKK has been waging a four-decade-long war against the Turkish state to carve out an autonomous zone in Turkey’s Kurdish Southeast. More than 40,000 people are believed to have died in PKK attacks and clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK.
Following the breakdown of a cease-fire in July 2015, clashes broke out between people affiliated with the outlawed PKK and Turkish security forces. In response to declarations of “self-governance,” the building of barricades and digging of trenches in Sur, the central district of Diyarbakır, and other towns across the Southeast, authorities began imposing 24-hour curfews and carrying out heavily militarized security operations.
According to a report by Amnesty International last December, an estimated half million people were forced from their homes as a result of the brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year, which may amount to collective punishment.