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Turkish PM repeats Kurdish promises amid CHP competition

DİYARBAKIR - Hürriyet Daily News | 6/1/2011 12:00:00 AM | GÖKSEL BOZKURT

The main opposition and the country's largest pro-Kurdish party are the biggest barriers before a solution to the Kurdish issue, the prime minister said Wednesday.

The main opposition and the country’s largest pro-Kurdish party are the biggest barriers before a solution to the Kurdish issue, the prime minister told a huge crowd Wednesday in Diyarbakır in a speech laced with religious messages.

“The patent of the Kurdish problem belongs to the CHP [Republican People’s Party] while the issue is exploited by the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party]. My Kurdish brother escaped from the CHP’s oppression but is now captured by the cruelty of the BDP,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during his 11th visit to the Southeast Anatolian city.

In his speech, Erdoğan invited Kurdish citizens to unity and brotherhood by highlighting religious unity instead of ethnic identity.

“Some say the Kurdish people’s religion is Zoroastrianism and Islam was imposed forcefully. This is not true,” Erdoğan said during the election rally for his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

“You must know that the community in Istanbul’s Süleymaniye Mosque turns [their faces] to the same qibla as the community here in Ulu Mosque turns. Our qibla is same. Is there any difference? No,” Erdoğan said.

He added that the “prophet” of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish BDP was the Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Criticizing the BDP for dividing the country with support from the PKK, Erdoğan referred to the BDP as a “terror organization” for the first time.

He also said the BDP protected the CHP in Diyarbakır as it did in Hakkari, where shopkeepers closed their doors ahead of a rally by the prime minister.

Erdoğan spoke in Diyarbakır a day after a CHP rally in the city, addressing more than 10,000 people in Diyarbakır amid extraordinary security measures following violent clashes in the northeastern town of Hopa on Tuesday.

[HH] CHP ‘denied Kurdish problem’

The CHP didn’t visit Diyarbakır for nine years and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu denied the Kurdish problem in Parliament but remembered the issue with just two weeks left until the June 12 general election, Erdoğan said.

“They are forced democrats. They are democrats for the ballot,” Erdoğan said. “They banned tapes in the Kurdish language. They rejected the culture of Kurdish people. I know the denial policies and the assimilation policies. But the objection policy is not applied here any longer. The denial policies have ended. Assimilation has now ended.”

Addressing the crowd in Diyarbakır, Erdoğan said: “You experienced the BDP terror organization’s pressure and fascism. What they did is not civilian disobedience but civilian fascism. For me there is neither Turkish nationalism nor Kurdish nationalism. I love all.”

Prior to Erdoğan’s arrival, Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir of the BDP said the atmosphere in the city was not tense, and that he had not heard any calls for shopkeepers to close down in protest.

The majority of stores stayed open though some did close their doors, mostly in areas with heavy BDP support. Shuttered stores were evident especially the Bağlar neighborhood, which was on the prime minister’s route.

Despite security preparations taken starting Tuesday night, two noise bombs exploded on the streets of Bağlar district, causing no damage, while a suspicious package was detonated by security forces. The loud explosion sounds, though, were enough to cause panic among residents.

Small incidents also broke out in the back streets as protesters burned tires. A crowd gathered in front of the BDP’s offices, causing the police to use tear gas and force. Children who had been showing the peace sign the day before were now throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails while security forces used pressurized water against protesters.

One sign carried by a protester read: “We closed the stores but opened our hearts. There is no stopping now.”

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