No calm in stormy debate over Kurdish bid
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies (from L) İdris Baluken, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Pervin Buldan speak to the press at Parliament in Ankara on Nov. 3. AFP PhotoNeither the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government nor the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has toned down their fiery rhetoric amid the long-stalled peace process, with both sides accusing each other for acting irresponsibly and failing to heed the public’s demands.
The government should end its patronizing attitude toward the HDP, a leading member of the party has stated, arguing that it has long been the target of a political lynch campaign, particularly fueled since the beginning of the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane.
“Designating what the HDP looks like is not anybody’s place nor is it anybody’s right,” HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said, reflecting anger at a statement delivered by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier in the day.
“This movement does not make politics by taking orders from somebody else. Nobody should have a fancy for getting us down on our knees,” Önder added, after Davutoğlu offered advice about how to run a political party in which he said the HDP should "act like a real political party."
“If the HDP begins acting within the constitutional and legal framework of Turkey by acting like a real political party, but not as a group disrupting the country’s stability through provocative actions, then it would continue to be recognized as a counterpart. However, if it assumes a stance disrupting public order and allowing practices disrupting public order, then this will lead to loss, not only in regards to the resolution process, but also in regards to domestic politics in Turkey,” Davutoğlu said.
The prime minister made the comments in the western Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar just a few hours before Önder and the HDP’s deputy parliamentary group chairs, İdris Baluken and Pervin Buldan, held a joint press conference in Parliament. All three lawmakers are frequent visitors of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan as part of the government-led peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between the PKK and Turkey’s security forces. Öcalan, serving a life sentence on İmralı Island off the Sea of Marmara, is playing a central role in the process.
“He is not the first prime minister who has been eager to put this political movement in its place. We have seen a lot of rulers, but they are all now null and void,” Önder said.
He said they had so far avoided making statements in their capacity as the parliamentary delegation involved in talks with Öcalan, but said they were now being forced to issue a joint public statement and explain their position because of the “perception management operations launched by the government and the pro-government [media] that have turned into a political lynch campaign.”
Tensions between the government and the HDP have risen particularly sharply in recent weeks, with the latter arguing that Turkey was waging a proxy war against the Kurds in neighboring Syria by backing Islamist rebels fighting them in the north of the country.