Erdogan Blasts West; HDP to Boycott House
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Europe of abetting terrorism by supporting Kurdish militants and said he did not care if it called him a dictator.
Turkey drew international condemnation for the arrest Friday of leaders and lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition grouping in parliament, as part of a terrorism investigation.
The government accuses the HDP, which made history last year by becoming the first Kurdish party to win 10 percent of the vote and enter parliament, of financing and supporting an armed Kurdish insurgency, which it denies.
The HDP announced a partial boycott of parliament Sunday, saying it was “halting its legislative efforts” and that its deputies would stop participating in sessions of the legislature or meetings of parliamentary commissions.
The action against the HDP has heightened concern among Western allies about the state of democracy in Turkey, a NATO member which aspires to join the European Union and which is a buffer between Europe and the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Over 110,000 officials – from soldiers and judges to teachers and journalists – have been detained or suspended since a failed military coup in July, in what Erdogan’s critics say is a crackdown on all forms of dissent.
“I don’t care if they call me dictator or whatever else, it goes in one ear, out the other. What matters is what my people call me,” Erdogan said in a speech at an Istanbul university, where he was receiving an honorary doctorate, according to Reuters.
Erdogan and the government are furious at what they see as Western criticism of their fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy and whose allied groups in Syria enjoy US support in the fight against Daesh (ISIL).
Erdogan said the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States, had killed almost 800 members of the security forces and more than 300 civilians since a cease-fire in the largely Kurdish southeast collapsed last year.
A PKK offshoot claimed responsibility for a car bomb in Diyarbakir Friday which killed 11 and wounded at least 100 hours after the HDP detentions, according to a website close to the militants. Daesh (ISIL) had also claimed the attack, according to the group’s Amaq news agency.
“Europe, as a whole, is abetting terrorism. Even though they declared the PKK a terrorist organization, this is clear,” Erdogan said. “We see how the PKK can act so freely and comfortably in Europe.”