Turkish prosecutors investigate Kurdish HDP leader

By bne IntelliNews September 10, 2015

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Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the mainly Kurdish HDP party, has been put under investigation shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the party must distance itself from the PKK Kurdish guerilla movement otherwise it would suffer the consequences.

In a recent speech in Diyarbakir, Demirtas held the government and Erdogan responsible for the recent attacks on the offices of the HDP in several cities. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday night to condemn PKK’s recent assaults that killed more than 30 security personnel in the country’s eastern provinces.  Protesters set fire to the HDP offices, including the party’s headquarters in Ankara. Demirtas accused the government and the country’s intelligence service, MIT, of being behind the attacks. 

The HDP must make a choice, said Erdogan in a speech on September 9. “If you side with terrorism you will have to suffer the consequences.” 

Prosecutors opened a case against Demirtas on charges of condoning a terrorist organisation, insulting the president, and inciting crime. Prosecutors also applied to the Ministry of Justice for Demirtas’s parliamentary immunity to be lifted. Parliament decides whether deputies’ immunity should be lifted or not. 

Demirtas and a group of HDP deputies are now seeking entry to the south-eastern town of Cizre which has been under curfew since September 4. The HDP claims that at least six people were killed in Cizre because of military operations. The delegation, headed by Demirtas, has been blocked by the security forces on the Midyat-Idil road. The delegation decided to continue the remaining some 90km on foot and spent the night on the town of Idil on Wednesday.

Demirtas warned on September 9 that holding snap general elections in November in the county’s eastern and southeastern provinces – where clashes between the security forces and the PKK have become daily occurrences after a two-year-old ceasefire collapsed two months ago – will be impossible because of the deteriorating security conditions.

Critics accuse Erdogan of whipping up attacks on the PKK and the HDP in an attempt to shore up his party's position in the upcoming general elections. The HDP easily cleared the 10% threshold to enter parliament in the June elections, securing around 13% of the votes and 80 seats in the 550-seat parliament. The mainly Kurdish party’s electoral success cost the AKP its parliamentary majority. Most of the Kurds who had previously supported the AKP, voted for the HDP in the June elections.

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