Ankara, Aug 5 () - Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has rejected allegations his party served as a political mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and defined retaliations against the Suruç massacre as “dirty" acts in an interview with the British daily Financial Times.
On July 28, President Tayyip Erdoğan urged the Turkish parliament to strip HDP deputies of their immunities in order to make them “pay the price” for having links to terrorist groups, implying the PKK.
In response, the Kurdish problem-focused HDP pledged to submit petitions to lift immunity from prosecution for all of its 80 deputies. Demirtaş explained his party’s move as a step to demonstrate they were “not afraid.”
“We have never supported violence, terrorism or racism. They can never find anything like this in any of my speeches. We won’t bow to pressure and blackmail” Demirtaş said.
“People look to us for morale and strength. If the government succeeds in frightening us with threats then society as a whole will be intimidated” he said.
Demirtaş argued the resurgence of violence is related to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) political aims to erode the HDP’s votes through conflict and form a single-party government following possible snap elections in November.
“The government tried to make the HDP pay the political price [for denting its majority]” he said. “It attacks us and tries to destroy our votes and our public prestige so that it can call an early general election and come to power on its own.”
Demirtaş cited some of the PKK’s retaliatory acts, including the suicide bombing of an army outpost in the eastern province of Ağrı on Aug. 2, as “dirty.” However, the HDP denied that section of the interview through its official Twitter account and stated Demirtaş asked the interviewer to release a correction.
The HDP said Demirtaş’ original statement referred to the terrorist act in Ceylanpınar where two Turkish policemen were killed in their shared home by the PKK “in revenge for the massacre in Suruç,” as the PKK’s military wing said in a statement on its website. Accordingly, Demirtaş could not have mentioned the terrorist attack on Ağrı as the incident took place three days after the interview.
In his original statement in Turkish, Demirtaş defined the action as “dirty” but also called it a “provocation” which helped rekindle the fight against the PKK.
“In Ceylanpınar, two policemen were murdered in their beds. That was a very dirty and provocative act and they probably made people with links to the PKK carry out the attacks. Afterwards a sudden wave of attacks started against the PKK” Demirtaş reportedly said.