Turkish President and Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reacted pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members who did not participate in a ceremony for the start of the new legislative year in Parliament, saying their place is the headquarters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), TRThaber reported on Sunday.
“You know, their place is Qandil [mountains in northern Iraq],” said Erdoğan in response to reporters’ questions about the HDP’s protest of the new legislative year ceremony in Parliament.
HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir last week said the HDP decided not to attend the opening of Parliament on Oct. 1 but instead would gather in front of Edirne Prison, where HDP Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş is jailed.
Responding to Erdoğan in front of Edirne Prison, HDP Co-chairperson Serpil Kemalbay said: “We are here to show that we do not accept that nine of our deputies have been taken hostage. Our presence here at the same time means defending the honor of Parliament.”
“The chairman of the AKP has said that our place is Qandil. The chairman of the AKP wants to get rid of the opposition. But we, pioneers in the struggle for democracy, will not allow the chairman of the AKP to realize his this dream.”
Demirtaş, along with HDP Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and seven other HDP politicians, was detained on Nov. 4, 2016 and ultimately arrested on charges of terrorism.
There are currently nine HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey after the ruling AKP government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians.