In yet another controversial move to attract Kurdish voters ahead of a critical mayoral election in İstanbul on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said even if they are Kurds, they are his sisters and brothers and human beings, so it is necessary to serve them.
Erdoğan’s remarks came during a speech at a meeting with businesspeople in İstanbul on Friday evening.
In his speech Erdoğan talked about how Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast improved after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002 and particularly after the government removed dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors in the region and replaced them with government-appointed trustees.
He said the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in the Southeast for more than three decades, has ruined people’s lives and houses.
“What did we do? We reconstructed the houses with the trustees. When you see Diyarbakır now, you can’t even recognize the city. We rebuilt a city that shines at night. Who was responsible for the damage to the city? The terrorist organization PKK and its political wing [the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)]. Even if they are Kurds, they are my sisters and brothers, they are human beings, so it is my job to serve them,” Erdoğan said.
The votes of the Kurds will play a critical role in Sunday’s election in İstanbul, where the AKP lost against the opposition candidate on March 31. The election is being held for a second time as the country’s election authority annulled the results of the March 31 vote due to complaints of irregularities from the AKP.