President Erdoğan vows intensified operations against PKK, dismisses post-coup criticism
ANKARAThe recent reshuffle in the police department will lead to an intensification of the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, vowing to completely “uproot the PKK.”
“With the help of the new assignments [of police chiefs to 61 provinces], we are entering a new era in the fight against terrorism in 81 cities across Turkey,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 27, meeting veterans and the relatives of those killed during the failed July 15 coup attempt.
“From now on, we are taking steps to commence a struggle wherever the source of this problem is, not its effects,” he added.
New police chiefs were assigned to 61 provinces across the country on Oct. 26. While the new appointments to the provincial head positions were largely carried out through officers stationed in Istanbul, a number of notable names on the list drew attention. One of those names is Turkish National Police Intelligence Department head Engin Dinç, known for his alleged links to the 2007 murder of the Armenian-origin journalist Hrant Dink. Engin Dinç and former police chiefs Reşat Altay and Ahmet İlhan Güler were accused of “helping commit deliberate murder” on Oct. 26, 2015, in an indictment presented to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Erdoğan’s speech on Oct. 27 came one day after Diyarbakır co-mayors Gultan Kışanak and Ferit Anlı were arrested on charges of supporting a terrorist organization through municipal resources.
‘There are no victims of July 15, only martyrs and veterans’
The president also dismissed criticisms of the sweeping post-coup attempt crackdown, which critics say has been indiscriminate and caused further injustice.
“There is no victim of July 15 apart from the relatives of the martyrs and veterans. Nobody has the right to call for accountability on this,” he said.
Erdoğan also again referred to the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption probes targeting senior government officials as a watershed for the government. He said the investigations were plotted by the “Fethullah Terror Organization” (FETÖ) and stressed that he had struggled against the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen ever since.
“Nobody who continued to be involved with FETÖ after the Dec. 17-25 operations can say they are a victim or innocent. It is our duty to take necessary measures about them and make them give an account for their actions before the law, even if they are our next of kin, because we have a responsibility to our martyrs and veterans,” he said.
‘Death penalty is what the people asked for’
Erdoğan also rekindled the debate on reintroducing the death penalty, which was triggered by the coup attempt that led to the deaths of at least 246 people.
One of the audience members of the event, which brought together relatives of those killed, shouted out during the speech: “We should hang them.” In response, Erdoğan nodded and said law enforcement treated the perpetrators of the coup attempt “within the framework of the law.”
“My citizen has the right to say ‘death penalty.’ I tell my citizen, if parliament takes such a decision, I will confirm it when comes to my table,” he added.
“Sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation,” he said, referring to a motto popularized after the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
“Our country is ruled by democracy, there is no rule above the decision of the people,” Erdoğan added.