Turkish President Erdoğan pledges to bring 'vandals' to account
President Erdoğan speaks during a mass opening vceremony in Bayburt, Oct. 12. DHA PhotoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed not to bow to “a few hoodlums” participating in recent protests in support of the Syrian town of Kobane while promising to deal with such enemies "within democracy."
“This is not a state that will bow to a few hoodlums. They should know that. They will burn and damage but we will build better ones. We will bring those vandals to account, too,” Erdoğan told locals of the Black Sea province of Bayburt yesterday during a mass opening ceremony.
“We will never allow incitement to take place when sensitive developments are taking place in our neighbors. But nobody should misunderstand this. We will not make concessions on democracy. We will not allow any treatment that is against human rights,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan also accused the protesters of attacking “pious Kurds, who wear headscarves or have beards.” “These terrorists, traitors, they attack our pious brothers, Kurdish brothers,” he said. The president also noted alleged attacks on library and schools in southeastern Turkey, saying, “Barbarians conducted the attack to prevent Kurdish children from accessing education.”
“They want the Kurdish children to be illiterate. They know the children will not join them if they go to school. Shame on this barbarian terror organization,” said Erdoğan, adding that the people would pay for their actions “just as they did in Bingöl” – a reference to the killing of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members in an operation which started after an attack on the Bingöl police chief, in which two senior police officials were killed.
On Oct. 11, Erdoğan said the Parliament will make legal arrangements next week to bring an end to vandalism and violence in the streets that have left 37 dead.
“I hope that, after Tuesday [Oct. 14], the Turkish Parliament will make new legal arrangements. The government will take administrative measures and other institutions will do their part to clear the streets rapidly of these vandals,” Erdoğan said in Rize in an unusual announcement, as the president does not generally intervene in the legislative process.
The president said he expected the support of all political parties and nongovernmental organizations on the issue, saying, “We will see who supports the government in Parliament and who does not.”
Erdoğan asked that citizens put all their disputes and differences aside and that “everyone assume responsibility for the survival of the country and give the necessary support to those concerned.”
He also said nobody could ask him to stay silent and neutral as demonstrators “burned schools, hospitals and nursing homes.”
Protesters demanding that Turkey permit a corridor into Kobane, a Syrian town on the Turkish border, to help relieve Kurdish defenders fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), took to the streets this week in different parts of the country.
Some 37 people were killed in violence related to the protests, with the majority dying after police, the military, far-right fundamentalists or far-right nationalists strafed crowds of protesters in incidents around the country.
The protesters claim the Turkish government has failed to act against the advance of ISIL militants into Kobane, which is populated by Syrian Kurds.
“The protests around Turkey this week seek to wreck the solution process,” Erdoğan also said, adding that “the solution process seeks to put an end to terrorism – this is why it was targeted.”
Some 57 people were detained on the night of Oct. 11 in the provinces of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Siirt – all located in the southeast of Turkey, where the most intense protests have taken place.
“They are attacking the peace, stability and fraternity in Turkey under the pretext of Kobane. What does Kobane have to do with Turkey?” Erdoğan asked.
Previously, Erdoğan had declared Syria’s civil war, as well as the 2013 coup in Egypt, to be Turkey’s internal matter.
Blaming certain provocative groups for perpetrating the violent protests, Erdoğan also said: “It is not only the PKK, or the political wing of that terrorist group. The [Bashar] al-Assad regime in Syria is also behind these events. These two are working together.”
Harshly criticizing international media groups reporting that “the solution process is over,” Erdoğan added: “Some international media groups are also behind these events. And also Pennsylvania, which would never miss any opportunity for treason against Turkey.”
The government has long accused Fethullah Gülen, the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher, of attempting to overthrow the government.
“Did we not accommodate 200,000 of our Kurdish brothers when they sought refuge here? Turkey took in all of the 200,000, and provided refuge and food for them,” Erdoğan asked.
Turkey launched what is publicly known as the “solution process” to end the decades-old conflict with the PKK, a dispute which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people over more than 30 years. The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.