As of late, Turkey’s democracy has been brought into question due to the imprisonment of former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Chair Selahattin Demirtaş. Therefore, I would like to focus on some remarks by Demirtaş that praise terrorism and terrorists in this piece. But first, I want to recall the status and acts of the outlawed PKK.
The PKK is a terror group that has killed around 30,000 people, including both civilians and security forces, over the past 35 years. It is listed as a terror group by the U.S., the EU, NATO and Turkey.
Numerous security officers died in clashes with the PKK and thousands of citizens were killed in the attacks organized by the terror group. They have frequently resorted to suicide attacks, during which civilians were killed while waiting at bus stops or playing at a park. Demirtaş’s words on the PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan should be evaluated in view of this.
For instance, in a TV broadcast he attended in May, 2015, Demirtaş said: “The Peoples’ Democratic Party is a project of Abdullah Öcalan.”
Also, in a speech he made in Diyarbakır province on May 28, 2015, he said: “You would better get used to this because we will erect the statue of Leader Apo [Öcalan].”
In another speech he delivered as a guest of a think tank in Washington in December 2015, he relayed: “We as HDP do not consider the PKK as a terrorist organization. We define the PKK as an armed people’s movement.”
In 2013, Demirtaş and a group of HDP deputies paid a visit to PKK’s headquarters in Mount Qandil, Iraq. Giving an interview to the PKK’s television channel, Demirtaş said: “Qandil is not a center of war but a center of peace.”
These are only some examples of the allegations against Demirtaş. Ask yourself if any politician in the U.S. tried to glorify Osama bin Laden or any other designated terrorist group like Demirtaş, how would it end up? Or, given that the fear of Spain’s secession could not even save the politicians strictly against terrorism from being jailed and the EU acclaimed this situation, it is not hard to imagine the future of a politician who happens to issue remarks like Demirtaş in Europe.
One last quick reminder is also in order because some commentators imply that Demirtaş is in jail because President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saw him as a threat: He was jailed long before he was nominated by the HDP for presidential election, not the other way around, and the highest vote share he could ever receive in his career is three times less than Erdoğan’s worst score as a politician.