Demirtas Criticizes Davutoglu and Erdogan, Labels Them ‘Provocateurs’
ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—On Oct. 12, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag released a statement urging the international community to take a “firmer stance against President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the AKP [Justice and Democracy Party] government,” noting that the authorities had “already lost legitimacy in the eyes of the public.”
The statement further “encouraged” the international community to address condolences to the people directly, and not to “the state representatives who are politically and administratively responsible for the massacre.”
“From the political rhetoric of Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu and the ministers he appointed, as well as that of President Erdogan, we see no political accountability with regards to this attack, the bloodiest in the history of the republic,” read the statement. “On the contrary, their public statements show a readiness to blame the victims of this attack and our party. Such a political tendency also shows that those responsible for this massacre will not be brought to justice, and that even the investigation may be hidden from public scrutiny.”
According to the HDP co-chairs, the media censorship following the attack suggests that “the government will be protecting not only the agents of this attack, but also those in political and administrative positions who paved the way for it.”
The statement comes two days after the Ankara bombings where at least 128 peace rally attendees were massacred, according to the latest figures provided by the HDP. Following the attack, Demirtas gave a press conference in which he strongly criticized the government for lacking accountability, and accused Davutoglu of spreading lies and disinformation.
Demirtas said he speaks from a place of loss, as he has lost around 150 friends to violence in recent months.
“You haven’t made one arrest in relation to any attacks—neither in the Suruc, nor Diyarbakir bombings. You won’t arrest the perpetrator of the Ankara bombing either,” said Demirtas.
The HDP co-chair also said that through their violent acts, the perpetrators wished to convey that “We can kill you and blow you up into pieces in broad daylight in the middle of Ankara.”
Demirtas said his statements are not motivated by possible political gains, nor are they intended to be a smear campaign tactic. “Damn your ballot box! Damn your greed for power! Damn your palace! We will not trade the lives of our friends, any child of our people, to the trillions you stole,” he said.
Directing his words to Davutoglu, Demirtas said, “You are governing this country, and you are responsible for every death. You will be held accountable for everything you have done.”
Demirtas went on to criticize the government for the lack of any security measures at the site of the peace rally. He said that if the rally had been organized by “them,” meaning the AKP, there would have been tight security measures. “This is Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Even if a bird flies, the state knows about it,” he said.
Demirtas also spoke about the tear gas used by security forces against those attempting to rescue survivors following the attack. Instead of being accountable for what took place, he said, Davutoglu blames the HDP and Demirtas on national TV. “What kind of arrogance and irresponsibility is this?” he asked.
“If I was the prime minister, I would go on stage, apologize 1,000 times over, and then resign… But these people don’t know what shame means… They call this ‘advanced democracy,’” he said.
“If Turkey is disturbed by our cries for democracy and peace, sorry, we do these rallies so we can live together, peacefully. You are the real provocateurs. Every speech you make smells of provocation. Both President and Prime Minister—every speech you make causes our people to hate one another,” said Demirtas.
On Oct. 11, Davutoglu invited the leaders of the opposition—with the exception of Demirtas, who according to Davutoglu was not invited because of his comments—to a summit to discuss the situation. Devlet Bahceli of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) refused to go. Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) went, but following the summit gave a press conference criticizing the government, according to reports.
Protests condemning the attack and criticizing the government were held in various cities. In Diyarbakir, around 10,000 people reportedly held a moment of silence on Oct. 11 for those killed.
Below is the Oct. 12 HDP statement in its entirety:
Call to the International Community
On Oct. 10, a peace rally that brought together many civil society organizations, revolutionary unions, and progressive and democratic parties, among them the HDP, was the target of a horrendous attack. Unfortunately, at least 128 of our fellow citizens were murdered in this attack, and hundreds wounded. We are concerned that the death toll may rise, as 48 among the wounded are in critical condition. This attack will go down as one of the bloodiest in the history of our republic.
There are clear links between the attacks on our party’s rally in Amed [Diyarbakir] on the 5th of June, in which 5 of our citizens died and more than 200 were injured, and the suicide bombing in Suruc on the 20th of July, in which 34 of our citizens were killed during a press conference by youth from across Turkey in support of Kobane, as well as the suicide bombing at the Peace Rally in Ankara. To date, none of the politicians in power has been held accountable regarding the previous two attacks. From the political rhetoric of Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu and the ministers he appointed, as well as that of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, we see no political accountability with regards to this attack, the bloodiest in the history of the republic. On the contrary, their public statements show a readiness to blame the victims of this attack and our party. Such a political tendency also shows that those responsible for this massacre will also not be brought to justice, and that even the investigation may be hidden from public scrutiny. The Prime Minister’s Office has already censored media coverage of the Ankara Massacre, suggesting that the government will be protecting not only the agents of this attack, but also those in political and administrative positions who paved the way for it.
Regarding this chain of massacres, we have a number of expectations and clear demands from the international community and from political leaders. In making this call, we wish to underscore that the Ankara Massacre and the aforementioned previous attacks are international in scope, and to make clear that we see the potential for such events to open the way to regional insecurity. AKP’s policy of relying on radical groups as proxies, which began with President Erdogan’s support of—and even channeling through MIT [Milli Istihbarat Teskilat], the [National] Intelligence Organization—the activities of such groups as ISIS, Al-Nusra, and Ahrar Al-Sham—used particularly against Kurds in Rojava—is at the heart of today’s tragedy.
President Erdogan aims to realize a “Turkey-type presidential regime” which will render him as the sole political authority in Turkey. In order to achieve this, Mr. Erdogan needs his party, the AKP, to secure the majority of the seats in parliament to form a single-party government. For this very reason, pushing HDP under the [10 percent] electoral threshold stands out as a straightforward tactic for AKP. In order to achieve this, AKP adopted the “escalation of violence” as a strategic approach. In a context where the ceasefire ended, the attacks against the PKK have intensified.
As the clashes escalated, the death toll of the soldiers was made a basis for creating a systematic wave of lynchings. On the one hand, AKP led fascist pogroms targeting HDP buildings as well as Kurdish groups living in the western parts of the country. On the other, Kurdish cities have been kept under military blockade and curfew. Only in Cizre, 21 civilians were massacred by the Turkish Armed Forces as well as the police. At a time when extreme nationalist and polarizing policies are implemented in Turkey, the safety of the general elections (November 2015) is a vexing question to be considered in a serious manner. Our electorates feel under constant threat in every social space and political activity they attend. In order to maintain stability in the region, it is crucial to prevent the devastating effects of the conflict from spreading over a wider geography. For this very reason, it is extremely important for the international community to take a firmer stance against President Erdogan and the AKP government that have already lost legitimacy in the eyes of the public in Turkey. Hereby, we encourage the international community who stand in solidarity to extend their condolences directly to the peoples of Turkey—not to the state representatives who are politically and administratively responsible for the massacre.
Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag
Peoples’ Democratic Party co-chairs