HDP leader shifts stance on PKK as early election approaches

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas calls on outlawed PKK to stop terror attacks in Turkey 'immediately,' signaling change in stance of HDP as new election looms

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas seen speaking to press in western Izmir province on Saturday.

Updated Aug 24, 2015

The co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas on Saturday called on the PKK to “immediately and unconditionally” end attacks in Turkey, reversing his previous stance as a new election is scheduled to take place on Nov. 1. 

Immediately after Turkey’s general election on June 7, in which the HDP entered the parliament as a party for the first time, the PKK’s umbrella organisation, the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) issued a statement on July 11 declaring that its truce with the Turkish government has ended and threatened Turkey with further attacks.

Since July 20, 58 Turkish security officers and 6 civilians have been killed in terror attacks. Only one soldier among the 58 was killed by ISIS while rest were killed by the outlawed PKK which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU. 

Speaking at a press meeting in Izmir, Demirtas called on the PKK to stop the violence and lay down arms, saying “Not tomorrow, right now, I want to make a call here in Izmir. The deaths must be stopped immediately. The PKK must stop armed attacks, bombings and violent acts. There is no excuse for using arms and violence.”

Within 10 days of its decision to unilaterally end its ceasefire with the Turkish government, a total of 16 soldiers and policemen were killed in terror attacks by the PKK. 

In response to increased public criticism of the HDP for not calling on PKK to stop its terror attacks, Demirtas had instead called on Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) to lay down arms. 

"We should say take your hands off of trigger and stop the violence. You must return to negotiation table that was set up with numerous efforts," Demirtas said in comments directed at the TAF. 

The links between the HDP and PKK are a matter of debate in Turkey. 

On July 17, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the HDP a parliamentary extention of the PKK and said, “They [the HDP] say that they do not have organic ties with the PKK. However, it is obvious that they have ‘inorganic’ ties with the separatist militant groups. The intelligence service has proof of this."

Later, the female co-chair of HDP, Figen Yuksekdag, said on July 19 that the HDP supporters the armed units active in Syria known as the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - which Turkey considers to be the Syrian affiliate of PKK - and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Following this statement, Yuksekdag was placed under investigation on charges of “making propaganda in favour of PKK."

Under Turkish law, members of parliament have immunity from prosecution. The prosecutor’s office will ask the Turkish parliament to strip this immunity if it feels it is necessary to pursue the case.

Demirtas' older brother Nurettin Demirtas is known to have joined the PKK and is currently stationed at a PKK camp in northern Iraq.

Demirtas had commented that the TAF has a "right to protect itself." 

Recently further allegations have surfaced of HDP involvement in the PKK's acts of violence. Explosives and materials used in bomb making were found in a truck belonging to the HDP-held Van municipality.

The worst terror attack by PKK in recent years took place on Wednesday, in which it killed eight soldiers in a roadside bomb attack. 

The PKK is an armed militant group which has been carrying out terror attacks mostly in Turkey’s southeastern provinces since the early 1980s. 

The group was founded by Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured in Kenya in 1999 and has been in prison since then. 

More than 40,000 people have lost their lives during 30 years of armed conflict between the PKK and the government.

The co-chair of KCK, Bese Hozat, declared on July 15 that a new stage of “revolutionary war” had begun.

Hozat said “Hell must be raised and the earth must be shaken. Hundreds of thousands and millions shall rise and escalate the democracy struggle radically if needed, refusing to leave the squares for days, weeks.”

TRTWorld and agencies