President Erdoğan, HDP co-chair duel over phone call to offer condolences for attack

President Erdoğan, HDP co-chair duel over phone call to offer condolences for attack

President Erdoğan, HDP co-chair duel over phone call to offer condolences for attack

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at a meeting in Ardahan. AA photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), are involved in a fresh debate over a telephone call by the president to offer his condolences following an attack on the party’s election rally in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

Erdoğan has slammed Demirtaş for “avoiding” his call, while the HDP co-leader called on the president to say condolences to the people of Diyarbakır. 

“What happened in Diyarbakır yesterday is not against any specific party, but is an act of provocation to over shadow the election,” Erdoğan said in a speech in the eastern province of Ardahan on June 6, one day before the country’s general elections.

Two people were killed and over 100 were injured when bombs exploded ahead of the HDP rally in Diyarbakır on June 5.

“I called him last night, but he avoided my call,” Erdoğan said, without naming Demirtaş. 

“Why don’t you answer, that’s how distant they are. I did my job as a human being, a statement was made by the President’s Office, I made my statement on ATV, A Haber broadcast [during a live televised interview on June 5], I completed my job,” the president added.

HDP co-chair Demirtaş, meanwhile, said it was “not important” if Erdoğan had tried to reach but could not.

“He was speaking in Eskişehir at the time of the incident, but he again attacked us, without a single Word on this vicious attack,” Demirtaş told reporters on June 6 when asked about Erdoğan’s remarks.

“He might have tried to reach me, but it is not important,” Demirtaş added.

“There are people massacred there, he should say condolences to them. Isn’t he the president of the 77 million people, let him go where the massacre took place in Diyarbakır and lay flowers there.”

Erdoğan replied to Demirtaş’s remarks in a later speech in the eastern province of Ağrı. 

“Why should I apologize, ıf anyone should do so, it’s him [Demirtaş],” said the president, accusing the party co-leader of provoking the deadly protests on Oct. 6-7, 2014. 

Street unrest following protests over the government’s perceived inaction toward Syrian Kurds besieged by jihadists in the town of Kobane peaked on Oct. 6 and 7 and led to the deaths of dozens of people in clashes between rival groups in the country’s southeast. 

Erdoğan and the government argued the violence was the result of the HDP’s call for protests, while the HDP side said the real reason was “violent police response” to the protests.

“You were the reason for the death of 50 people,” Erdoğan said, without naming Demirtaş. 

“Those who died were my Kurdish brothers, and those who killed were also Kurds. You were the reason for such violence,” the president added.