DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (A.W.)—Following the June general elections during which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured 10 percent less votes than in previous elections, the AKP—after a decade of peace negotiations—broke the ceasefire and declared war on the Kurds.
The AKP had garnered 49.95 percent of the votes in the 2011 general elections; that figure fell to 40.9 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the minority pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) earned 13 percent, placing it above the 10 percent threshold it needed to enter the Turkish Parliament.
The AKP government had intended to change the political structure of the government from a parliamentary system to an executive presidential one, like that of the U.S. Having failed to secure enough seats to implement this plan, they called for snap elections and declared war on the Kurds.
In September, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech in which he referred to the state of war in the country: “If a party had managed to secure 400 deputies or a number that could change the constitution, the situation today would have been very different.” With these words, Erdogan essentially openly stated his justification for the war.
This war, although it has been raging all over the Kurdish areas, has targeted Kurdish regions where the HDP received more than 80 percent of the vote in June. These areas include Batman, Sirnak, Hakkari, Cizre, Silopi, Lice, and Nusaybin. According to some commentators, the government targeted the population in these areas and caused them to flee, in the hopes that it would affect the voter turnout in the Nov. 1 snap elections in these areas.
Government forces have forcibly removed the population from around areas they are stationed at. Today, authorities have forcefully emptied the Sur district of Diyarbakir (the part of the city inside the city walls). Many houses have been set on fire. Intense fighting is still ongoing in Sur; on Oct. 10, two civilians were reportedly killed there.
According to an official from the Human Rights Association, around 300 civilians have been killed since June. This number does not include those killed at the peace rally in Ankara on Oct. 10.
The rally, which was organized by various non-governmental organizations in Ankara, was targeted by 2 bombs. At least 128 activists were killed, and around 400 were wounded, according to the latest estimates by the HDP.
For detailed reports on the Ankara attacks, see “Ankara Explosions Kill at Least 97 at HDP-Supported Peace Rally,” and “HDP Calls on International Community to Take ‘Firm Stance’ against AKP.”
Gulisor Akkum filed this report from Diyarbalkir.