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Erdoğan caused Kurds the greatest suffering, veteran Kurdish politician says

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Ahmet Türk, a veteran Kurdish politician, has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stands as the political leader responsible for inflicting the greatest hardship and suffering on the Kurdish people while elaborating on his earlier remarks about Erdoğan’s ability to resolve the Kurdish issue.

Türk, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party’s (DEM Party) mayoral candidate for the southeastern province of Mardin, spoke to the Medyascope news platform on Tuesday regarding his remarks earlier this month suggesting that Erdoğan, not former main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, could resolve the Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

He said he wasn’t trying to praise the president since he thinks that “Erdoğan is the leader who has caused the most suffering to the Kurds.”

“We had no faith that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would resolve the Kurdish issue. … [The Republican People’s Party] CHP does not have the ability to address such a formidable problem. If there’s a desire for resolution, Erdoğan will handle it, as he is a leader,” Türk said on February 9.

Over the past years, especially during his campaign as the opposition’s presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, then-CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has expressed his desire to resolve the Kurdish issue multiple times, criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for conducting direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan.

Öcalan is the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The settlement process, which refers to talks between the AKP government and the leadership of the outlawed PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue, began in 2012 and ended after two police officers were executed in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.

After his remarks, which were interpreted as praise for Erdoğan, Türk explained during the interview with Medyascope that he simply meant Erdoğan has the means and power to address the matter.

Referring to Erdoğan as “a leader who has taken control of all state institutions,” Türk said that when Erdoğan asks for something, everyone complies.

“But if the CHP were to attempt such a thing, its project would be shattered,” he said.

When asked whether a new settlement process could begin after the local elections on March 31, Türk said he doesn’t expect such a development in the near future.

The ruling AKP increased its crackdown on Kurds, especially after the collapse of Ankara’s settlement process with the outlawed PKK in 2015.

Since an attempted coup against Erdoğan and the ruling AKP in July 2016, the government has shut down a number of Kurdish language institutes, dailies, websites and TV channels as part of a crackdown targeting the Kurdish political movement.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which faces a closure case on terrorism charges at the Constitutional Court, won 65 municipalities in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions in the March 2019 local elections. However, more than 50 of their mayors have either been removed from office or not allowed to assume office due to the decisions of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) or the Interior Ministry.

Pro-Kurdish political parties in Turkey have frequently faced closure on the grounds that they had links to the PKK.

However, they continued their activities under new party names.

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