Erdogan Blasts Kurdish Autonomy Plea

Erdogan Blasts Kurdish Autonomy PleaErdogan Blasts Kurdish Autonomy Plea

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned as “treason” a call by prominent Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas for Kurdish autonomy.

“What the co-leader has done is treason, provocation,” Erdogan said, referring to Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

At the weekend, the HDP and other pro-Kurdish groups called for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, BBC reported.

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into those comments.

The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is fighting for Kurdish self-rule. The army says it has killed more than 200 PKK militants in the latest fighting. The PKK is regarded as a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the US and EU.

The HDP won 59 seats in Turkey’s 550-seat parliament in the 1 November elections. It came third, behind Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party and the Republican People’s Party.

Speaking on Tuesday, Erdogan said Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be “taught a lesson” by the people and the law.

He accused Demirtas of challenging Article 14 of the constitution, which bans activities deemed to “violate the indivisible integrity of the state”.

On Sunday, Demirtas backed a declaration by a Kurdish umbrella group—the Democratic Society Congress—which called for “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”.