President Erdoğan seeks compensation from HDP leader for ‘insults’

President Erdoğan seeks compensation from HDP leader for ‘insults’

President Erdoğan seeks compensation from HDP leader for ‘insults’

AP photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking compensation from the co-leader of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, on charges of “gross insults, slander and impeachment.”

Erdoğan filed two separate complaints against Demirtaş, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 11, noting the president asked for payment of compensation for non-pecuniary damages.

Speeches made by Demirtaş on July 28 and Aug. 3 were subject to the complaints filed by Erdoğan, who asked for payment of 70,000 Turkish Liras in total in regards to the two incidents.

The two leaders have long exchanged harsh verbal accusations against each other. In the August 2014 presidential election which carried Erdoğan to the presidency after over a decade as Turkey’s prime minister, Demirtaş competed against him.

Particularly in the run-up to the June 7 parliamentary election, the rhetoric on both sides had heated up. The heightened state of alert Turkey has been in since launching its “synchronized war on terror” last month, including air strikes against fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, as well as hundreds of suspected militants who have been detained, has escalated tension on the political stage, including the blame game between the two leaders.

The first apparent tipping point in the harsh exchange of words between the two was an extremely short speech delivered by Demirtaş during a parliamentary group meeting of his party in March when he said, “As long as the HDP exists, we will not make you [Erdoğan] president. We will not make you president. We will not make you president.”

The HDP has also accused Erdoğan of bringing the long-stalled Kurdish peace process, which had sought to end the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and PKK militants, to a halt with repeated remarks in which he said, “There is neither a table nor parties.” 

Turkey’s recent assaults on the PKK have so far been much heavier than its strikes against ISIL, fuelling Kurdish suspicions that its real agenda is keeping Kurdish political ambitions in check, something the government denies.

In an interview with Reuters in late July, Demirtaş said Erdoğan was taking Turkey to war as revenge, arguing the president had been seeking to discredit the Kurdish movement ahead of a possible repeat election.

Demirtaş led the HDP into a parliamentary election in June in which it seized enough seats to deprive the Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdoğan, of a working majority for the first time in more than a decade.

“The AKP is dragging the country into a period of conflict, seeking revenge for the loss of its majority in the June election,” Demirtaş told Reuters. “The HDP passing the threshold and the AKP losing its parliamentary majority are being used as a pretext for war.”