HDP vows to stop Erdoğan becoming Turkey’s ‘chief commander’
Turkey’s shelling of Syrian Kurdish positions inside Syria is linked to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s drive to shift to a presidential system, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ has claimed.
“This is not Turkey’s war of independence. This is the Palace’s war for supremacy,” Yüksekdağ said, referring to President Erdoğan.
“There is uninterrupted artillery fire against PYD [Democratic Union Party] positions in Syria,” she said at her Kurdish-problem focused HDP’s parliamentary group meeting on Feb. 16, disputing military statements that Turkish artillery has “returned fire” into Syria “in retaliation” for a fourth straight day.
“The government has such enmity against Kurds. It accepts being a neighbor with [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL and al-Nusra, but it cannot accept being a neighbor with Kurds,” Yüksekdağ said, adding that Turkey said it has operated “rules of engagement” against the PYD even though the latter has not launched any attacks against Turkey.
“Was it the PYD or was it al-Nusra that cut the throat of a Turkish soldier at a border outpost? You should first answer this,” the HDP co-chair also said, referring to the killing of a soldier on Feb. 14 at the Görentaş border post in Hatay’s Yayladağı district. The Turkish military said the soldier was killed in a knife attack after security forces intervened against a group of human smugglers trying to infiltrate into Turkish territory from Syria.
“They are opening the door to a very big war and chaos in the region. If a big war emerges, it will be easier for him [Erdoğan] to become an executive president by becoming chief commander through a declaration of mobilization and martial law. As he could not become president through the democratic will of people, he wants to become president through war. He is chasing his ambition of becoming president by becoming the chief commander,” Yüksekdağ claimed.
The HDP’s other co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, and has long traded harsh verbal accusations with Erdoğan, against whom he ran in the presidential election of August 2014. Particularly in the run-up to the June 7 parliamentary election, the rhetoric on both sides heated up. The first apparent tipping point in the harsh exchange of words between the two was an extremely short speech delivered by Demirtaş during a parliamentary group meeting of his party in March 2015 when he said, “As long as the HDP exists, we will not make you [Erdoğan] president. We will not make you president. We will not make you president.”
‘Operation underway in Cizre’
Yüksekdağ also stated that security operations against militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are continuing in the town of Cizre in Şırnak province, contradicting Interior Minister Efkan Ala’s earlier statements that security forces had completed their operations against militants in Cizre after weeks of fighting.
“In total, 258 of our brothers and sisters, our citizens in Cizre, were massacred … In the cellar of savagery, 145 people were slaughtered,” she added, referring to the cellar of a largely ruined building in Cizre, in which the HDP said dozens of wounded civilians were trapped without medical assistance.
Police raided the local HDP-held Cizre Municipality and prevented it from offering assistance to locals, Yüksekdağ also said, showing photographs of the devastated Cizre.
“The results of the operation which they said ‘We finished successfully’ is a city in ruins. What we have been confronting is a mindset so corrupted that it exposes the dead body of a woman after stripping her naked,” she added.
Last week, the Şırnak Governor’s Office released a statement related to photos showing a naked dead woman lying on the ground, allegedly taken in Cizre. The governor’s office said the photos, which had circulated on social media, had no relation to Cizre and were aimed at “defaming the security forces.”