Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a press conference on Saturday that he perceives pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş to be a terrorist, the Diken news website reported.
Speaking to the press after the G20 summit in Hamburg, Erdoğan accused Demirtaş of using his “Kurdish brothers” to murder other Kurds.
“Turkey is a state of law. The person you mentioned [Selahattin Demirtaş] is a terrorist. He is such a terrorist that he made all my Kurdish brothers take to the streets and then got these 53 Kurdish brothers murdered by some other Kurds. This is only one of the crimes he committed. There are many other similar ones.”
Erdoğan’s statement refers to the “2014 Kobanî protests,” large-scale protests by Kurds in Turkey as a spillover of a crisis in Kobanî.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), fought a successful battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in October 2014. However, Erdoğan and the Turkish government had taken a position against the PKK and allegedly supported Hezbollah, even going so far as to make clear that they preferred ISIL at the Turkish border to the PKK-affiliated group.
As a result, large pro-Kobanî demonstrations erupted in Turkey and quickly descended into violence between protesters and the Turkish police. Several incidents between Turkish forces and PKK militants in southeastern Turkey, resulting in several fatalities, contributed to the escalation.
The protests then spread to various cities in Turkey. Demonstrators were met with tear gas and water cannons, and 12 people were initially killed. A total of 53 people were killed in subsequent protesting up to Oct. 14.
A 16-year-old Kurdish youngster, Yasin Börü, was among those killed in Diyabakır in October 2014, allegedly by the PKK, on suspicion that he was an ISIL militant. The incident has repeatedly been mentioned by Erdoğan as one of the main themes in election rallies to mobilize Kurds and Turks against the HDP.