Erdoğan: “There is no Kurdish Problem”

Erdoğan: “There is no Kurdish Problem”

Speaking to a large group of local muhtars from nine different provinces yesterday at the presidential palace, President Erdoğan stated in his speech that “There is not a Kurdish problem, but a terrorist problem in Turkey. No one should try to convince us otherwise.”

He went on to argue that “in Turkey, there are those who have one-track minds: ‘Kurdish problem and Kurdish problem, Kurdish problem and Kurdish problem.’ You cannot get anyone to buy it… “We closed this matter in my Diyarbakır speech in 2005. We said then, ‘There is no such problem in Turkey anymore, you cannot explain this to anybody. There is a terror problem in Turkey”.

Erdoğan’s comments come amidst violent clashes between state forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in the predominantly Kurdish provinces in the Southeast. The conflict, which started up again this past July after the collapse of a 2 year ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK, has already claimed the lives of many civilians.

In his speech Erdoğan went on to note that “There is no difference between the one digging the trenches, and the one defending the use of trenches, the one planting the bomb and the one defending the bomb, the one using the gun and the one defending the gun.”

The president’s comments regarding “defending the use of trenches” were likely targeting the pro-Kurdish HDP party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, whose comments a week earlier at the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) General Committee Meeting drew widespread criticism from mainstream media and the majority AKP party.

Hosted in the Southeastern Province of Diyarbakır, the DTK General Committee met between December 26 and 27, with participation from party members of the HDP, the Labour Party (EMEP), The Persecuted Socialists Party (ESP) and the Peoples Democratic Congress (HDK).

Speaking at the Congress, Demirtaş supported a push towards the establishment of autonomous regions across the predominantly Kurdish provinces of Southeast Turkey.

Demirtaş stated that “For those who say ‘I will destroy you’ simply for thinking about of the notion of self-government, trenches and barricades are not an exaggerated response. What else should they do?”

The General Committee resulted in the drafting of a “Declaration Concerning Self-Government as a Political Solution.” The Declaration recommended; the creation of city wide self-autonomous regions, the institutionalization of regionally based public security forces working in coordination with the central public security forces, reform of the education system to include regional languages in the curriculum and their acceptance as official languages, the equal participation of women in all decision-making bodies, and finally, regional control and administration over natural resources.

Days after the DTK General Committee meeting, the Ankara Republic Attorney General began an investigation of Demirtaş’s statements as potentially constituting “Crimes against the constitutional design and the administration of the constitution” according to Article 309 of the Turkish Penal Code.

President Erdoğan has called for the parliamentary immunity of HDP co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ to be suspended so they can be prosecuted for their alleged crimes against the constitution, arguing that “the price for a crime committed by any politician should be personally paid by himself but not institutionally by his party. This person may be a party leader, lawmaker, a mayor or member of a municipal council. No matter who he is, he should pay the price. That is it”.

He stated “I believe the process of suspending their parliamentary immunity will influence the nation positively, both in terms of the efforts to combat terrorism and the general political atmosphere.”

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