HDP should call on PKK to leave cities, Deputy PM says

HDP should call on PKK to leave cities, Deputy PM says

HDP should call on PKK to leave cities, Deputy PM says

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has said the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) should call on outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants to leave Turkish cities and not restrict the free will of the people in a recent interview.

“The HDP has to make a call [to the PKK to enable] all militants to leave the cities and people. The people’s free will should not be restricted,” Akdoğan said in an interview published by daily Milliyet on April 15.

Akdoğan was speaking over the recent clash between Turkish security forces and the PKK, which took place in the eastern Anatolian province of Ağrı on April 11. He said the safety of the elections was very important and they were working to provide an election atmosphere away from the “shadow of arms.”

He also criticized those who claimed the government or the military had aimed for the clash to be used as election propaganda. “How could we allow the killing of people? We would not exchange the blood of one soldier for 500 deputies,” he said.

Five PKK militants were killed and four Turkish soldiers were injured in Ağrı on April 11 in clashes that erupted after PKK militants opened fire on security forces, the Turkish military said in a statement over the weekend. The PKK on April 13 denied that its militants attacked first, also arguing that only one civilian and one PKK militant were killed in the clashes. A delegation from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which went to Ağrı to investigate the deadly clash, also said that two people were killed in the incident.

In the meantime, the HDP deputies known as the İmralı delegation for their visits to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı Island prison as part of the peace process said in a statement on April 15 that the Ağrı governor was primarily responsible from the clash, as his attitude has caused the provocation. They also accused the government of causing the incident with its new security law which “limits the democratic sphere and causes the end of ceasefire.”

“Those responsible for this incident, including the Ağrı governor, should be revealed and the incident should be investigated deeply,” the HDP’s statement said, noting it was important for the safety of the peace process.

The delegation said they met with local sources, witnesses, and villagers in Ağrı on April 13 over the incident and prepared a report to deliver to Öcalan during their next meeting.

The statement also denied the remarks of government officials and the president, who claimed PKK militants were promoting election propaganda to the locals in the area. “The clash started before the people entered the festival area. The people were prevented from entering the area,” it said.