Clashes continue in southeast amid debate on ‘autonomy’

Clashes continue in southeast amid debate on ‘autonomy’

Clashes continue in southeast amid debate on ‘autonomy’

AA photo

Clashes between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have continued to claim more lives in southeastern Turkey, while the “autonomy” remarks by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş have fueled debate and been met with a strong reaction from the government.

One soldier was killed during clashes with the PKK militants in Silopi district of Şırnak late Dec. 28. Nine security personnel, including five policemen and four soldiers, were wounded in clashes with PKK militants that erupted after an explosion in southeastern Diyarbakır province on Dec. 28. PKK militants detonated two improvised explosive devices during an ongoing military operation in Diyarbakır’s Sur district. Clashes erupted between Turkish security forces and the militants following the blasts. 

Reports indicated five special operations police officers and four special forces gendarmes were wounded. 
While all injured personnel were transferred to a hospital for treatment, a police officer who was shot in his chest and a soldier with a shrapnel wound were taken into surgery. Reports indicated none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Meanwhile, a 20-year-old civilian was shot and killed in southern Mersin province during an unauthorized rally against the military-imposed curfews in a number of southeastern towns. 

The victim, identified as Sedat Baran, sustained a fatal gunshot wound of unknown origin in the Gündoğdu neighborhood of Mersin’s Akdeniz district. 

Reports indicated police intervened in the protest with armored vehicles and tear gas as it was organized without prior authorization.

Baran’s body was brought to the Mersin State Hospital’s morgue unit.

Three soldiers, Necati Yenikapı, Faruk Gezen, Kadir Kayveni, who were killed in southeastern Şırnak province’s Cizre district on Dec. 27, were buried on Dec. 28 in their hometowns. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has cancelled its New Year’s celebrations due to the ongoing clashes in the southeast. 

Meanwhile, the Chief of General Staff said in a statement on Dec. 28 that 211 PKK militants have been killed in Şırnak’s Silopi and Cizre districts of as well as in Diyarbakır’s Sur district since Dec. 14, when the anti-terror operations began.

Autonomy debate

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu criticized HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s statements on autonomy.

“I will never talk with anyone who brings Turkey’s unity and integrity to the table,” Davutoğlu said on Dec. 28, speaking just before flying to Belgrade for an official visit to Serbia.

Davutoğlu also said HDP voters should be aware that it was not “a truthful political party,” claiming that its “disguised intentions” have been revealed.

Speaking about HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder’s remarks over a scheduled meeting with Davutoğlu on the new constitution, the prime minister said they did not have the right to call him to account.

“Instead of calling me to account, they [HDP] should call those who turned Sur and Cizre into a dungeon with trenches and barricades into account. There is no way for them to support terrorism and make conditions to a prime minister who aims to meet with them for the construction of a free and democratic Turkey,”

Davutoğlu said, explaining the reasons for the cancellation of his meeting with the HDP.

Turkey’s Prime Ministry made a statement on Dec. 26 that Davutoğlu had cancelled a planned meeting with the HDP over comments made by Demirtaş during a recent visit to Moscow.

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın defined the autonomy demands as a “fantasy” during a press conference on Dec. 28.

“Such operations were attempted on these soils before and all these attempts have failed,” said Kalın, adding that “those who mentioned these fantasies” were causing the most damage to those who voted for them in the elections. 

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said the HDP would lose its legitimacy if it tried to legitimize terrorism, speaking to private NTV news channel on Dec. 28. 

“You cannot create a de facto situation by digging trenches. Words lose their meaning when there is terrorism and trenches. A party loses its legitimacy if it tries to legitimize violence. Ask 78 million [people in Turkey] and see who approves of this,” said Ala.