HDP co-leader justifies declarations of ‘autonomy’ as fight against the ‘dictatorship’

HDP co-leader justifies declarations of ‘autonomy’ as fight against the ‘dictatorship’

HDP co-leader justifies declarations of ‘autonomy’ as fight against the ‘dictatorship’

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A co-leader of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has argued that residents in the southeastern Anatolia region have embraced the idea of “autonomy” as a way of resisting a “dictatorship” that has been imposed on them by the Turkish government.

The issue is not about the battle between security forces and “some 15-20 members” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Demirtaş said at a press conference on Dec. 22 ahead of a visit to Moscow.

“If the issue was about 15-20 PKK members, wouldn’t it have been resolved in such a long time by vandalizing? The government is deceiving particularly Turkey’s west. The region has embraced autonomy. The people are standing behind autonomy, they should see this well. In these [military] operations, especially the HDP’s Kurdish grassroots are forced to obey. They made a coup after June 7,” Demirtaş said, referring to the parliamentary elections on June 7 which was followed by a snap election on Nov. 1 as the vote didn’t produce a single-party government and coalition talks failed.

“Turkey’s west especially needs to understand this. The thing that you despise by saying ‘ditch’ and ‘barricade’ is actually a resistance against the coup. Should people act like lambs to the slaughter in the face of all pressures? What did people do against the blockade during the Sarajevo resistance, which you mention with praise and enthusiasm? They dug ditches and they dug tunnels,” he said. 

“The autonomy is against dictatorship. If Cizre people had declared ‘dictatorship and presidential system,’ instead of autonomy, they would send a celebration delegation there. If they had declared ‘dictatorship,’ it would be welcomed in Ankara with a flourish of trumpets.”

Demirtaş also responded to criticism leveled by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on his visit to Moscow who questioned timing of his visit, when Ankara is at loggerheads with Moscow over the downing of a Russian warplane.

“The prime minister is questioning our visit to Russia. He asks ‘Why didn’t he go there a year ago?’ I went to Russia last year too. Such ignorance,” Demirtaş said, adding that the visit was planned before the crisis with Russia erupted.

He also said the party’s executives had contacted Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu about the visit and received “an informational note” to make use of during the visit.