HDP deputy voices readiness to testify to courts over stalled peace process

HDP deputy voices readiness to testify to courts over stalled peace process

HDP deputy voices readiness to testify to courts over stalled peace process

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A leading member of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has said he is ready to testify at court in order to expose the details of a long-stalled peace process between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“The president [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] was the prime minister at that time. He called me and said, ‘You went to Kandil, what happened?’” HDP Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said on May 20, using a byword for the leadership of the PKK, whose headquarters are in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq.

Önder’s remarks came at a plenary session of parliament amid taunts by deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during heated debates over a government-led bill to lift legislative immunities, which mainly targets deputies of the HDP. With 59 seats, the HDP is currently the third largest party in the 550-seat national assembly.

While Önder was speaking from the podium, he referred to the collapse of a de facto phase of non-conflict last July, since when Turkey’s southeast has seen some of its worst fighting since the height of the conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK in the 1990s.

As he was speaking, AKP Istanbul deputy Ravza Kavakçı Kan shouted “terrorist” at Önder, while AKP Çanakkale deputy Bülent Turan shouted “You have instructions from Kandil.” 

“We will follow this up at court,” Önder vowed. 

“Lift our immunities, we will talk about all of this at courts. We will talk about who it was who received instructions from Kandil, who it was who sent words and messengers to Kandil,” he added.

Along with HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken and former HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan, who is now deputy parliament speaker, Önder was one of the three frequent visitors to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan at İmralı Prison during the now collapsed government-led peace process.

A Feb. 28, 2015 agreement between ruling AKP and the executives, dubbed the “Dolmabahçe Agreement,” led to protracted controversy and speculation before the process collapsed last summer.

A joint press conference between the AKP and the HDP was held at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul on Feb. 28, 2015, in which both sides read their own statements, while Önder listed 10 articles summarizing Öcalan’s priorities.

Serving a life sentence at İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea after he was captured by Turkish security forces in Kenya in 1999, Öcalan played a central role in the peace process aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and PKK militants since at least late 2012. As part of the initiative, Öcalan had been in dialogue with state officials, the HDP, and its predecessor the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).