Jailed PKK leader calls for speeding up peace process, warns of 'massacres': HDP co-chair

Jailed PKK leader calls for speeding up peace process, warns of 'massacres': HDP co-chair

Jailed PKK leader calls for speeding up peace process, warns of massacres: HDP co-chair

HDP co-chair Demirtaş addresses his supporters in Diyarbakır, Oct. 9. REUTERS Photo / Osman Orsal

The jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has called for an acceleration of the Kurdish peace process following deadly recent clashes stemming from protests against the jihadist assault on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, while warning of "provocations and massacres," Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said.

“We had the chance to exchange messages with Mr. [Abdullah] Öcalan last night. We would like to indicate that he, too, is advising and urging all parties to speed up dialogue and negotiations against the danger of provocations and massacres,” Demirtaş said at a press conference in Diyarbakır on Oct. 9.

Over 20 people have been killed and dozens of others injured mainly in Diyarbakır and other southeastern provinces during massive nationwide protests on Oct. 7 to express support for Kobane and condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Although some of the protests were called by the HDP, Demirtaş stressed that his party did not call for the use of violence at any time.

“We wanted to show our support to Kobane by staging demonstrations, but without looting, destruction or killings. We don’t advocate violence and ask everyone to follow our demand,” he said, while also denouncing “smear attempts” targeting the HDP.

During the press conference, the HDP co-chair stressed once again the gravity of the situation in Kobane, where he said people were fighting in the streets and warning of imminent massacres.

He especially called on the government to confront serious accusations that it has armed radical Islamists groups in Syria. “[President] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Syria was Turkey’s internal matter. If that is so, what is happening in Kobane is also our internal matter,” Demirtaş said, adding that Erdoğan should provide more assurances that Turkey is standing with the people of Kobane.

“If there is a massacre in Kobane, [the international community] will be responsible for it. You are the ones who made ISIL become a menace for these people. You can’t abandon the Kurds in Kobane, or the Turkmens, Arabs and Turks in Telafer,” Demirtaş said.

He reiterated that Kobane “was not a threat for Turkey" and said "let’s save Kobane together."

Tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds have taken shelter across the Turkish border in the last two weeks after fighting in Kobane intensified. Air strikes led by a U.S. coalition has temporarily stopped the progress of ISIL militants, who have entered some of the suburbs of the city.