HDP co-head refuses to bow to PM in public order rift

HDP co-head refuses to bow to PM in public order rift

HDP co-head refuses to bow to PM in public order rift

HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s ultimatum to Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, charging him responsibility for any violence resulting from protests against a controversial new security package, has become the center of a heated debate in Ankara. The tension is likely to escalate further, after Demirtaş refused to bow to this ultimatum.

“These [people] assume that politics is done solely through sitting in Parliament,” said Demirtaş, who was quoted in remarks published in daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 10.

“Streets are also venues for politics. The interpretation that ‘blood will be shed’ is nothing more than fear from the streets,” Demirtaş told Cumhuriyet in response to Davutoğlu’s statement on Dec. 9, in which he declared that Demirtaş would be responsible for any future bloodshed in the country.

The prime minister’s remarks came in response to an earlier statement by the HDP co-head, who criticized the controversial new government-led security package, saying “protests in the streets” will halt the bill in its tracks.

“Our minds have always been clear about the resolution process; we haven’t hesitated. But the statement by Demirtaş saying ‘We will stop the security package in the streets,’ is very irresponsible,” Davutoğlu told a group of journalists on board a plane returning from Warsaw to Ankara on Dec. 9.
However, vowing full support to their leader, the HDP called on Davutoğlu on Dec. 10 to display “common sense” and stop delivering “irresponsible” statements.

“With these statements, the prime minister has confessed that they will impose violence against those who use their democratic rights. They are preparing beforehand to lay the responsibility for this on the HDP,” said the Central Executive Board of the HDP in a written statement.

Meanwhile, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Beşir Atalay said the HDP’s approach did “not befit” a political party represented in Parliament.

“This is not a political stance; these are old habits. Their stance attempts to be political, but also somehow excuses violence in the streets. We call on everybody to display a more democratic stance,” Atalay said.

For the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the prime minister’s attempt to shift the blame to an opposition party while he supports legislation that would enable civil authorities to take people into custody without justification, is unacceptable.

“It is Davutoğlu who makes arrangements that disrupt public order; he has been following [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan. He should immediately renounce and withdraw this draft,” CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi said regarding the new security package.

“I never approve of speaking with a threatening language. If Demirtaş made a call for the people to take to the streets, then it is wrong, but I believe the prime minister, who holds the executive power, threatening an opposition party member is also definitely wrong,” Hamzaçebi added.

The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) reaction to the controversy came in a written statement released by its Deputy Chair Şefkat Çetin.

“Davutoğlu is unfair to charge Demirtaş, who is the spokesperson for the terrorist organization, for blood that could be shed,” Çetin said, suggesting that it was Davutoğlu himself who “has so far caved in to threats and blackmail by the terrorist organization,” in reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“For blood to be shed, a larger responsibility than that held by Demirtaş lies on the shoulders of Davutoğlu, his government, and Erdoğan together in this ‘resolution’ nonsense,” Çetin added.