ANKARA, – Turkey can no longer carry the weight of the rising number of killings amid the spiral of violence taking its toll on all sides, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said, urging both the president and the government to listen to calls for an imminent silencing of arms.
“Not only the HDP, but the whole of Turkey wants peace,” Demirtaş told reporters on Aug. 25.
“The one who turns a deaf ear to the peace calls is the president,” he added, claiming that the main motive behind the government’s policies was to prevent the HDP from passing the 10 percent threshold needed to get seats at parliament in the upcoming early election.
“These frenetic policies should be immediately abandoned. They have dragged the country into war and they will of course be held to account for this. They should abandon cries like ‘We will fight to the end’ and ‘We will sacrifice our children’ … Our entire issue at the moment is about silencing arms,” the HDP co-chair said.
Demirtaş also stressed that remarks by Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-Chair Cemil Bayık, who ruled out any “one-sided” move to silence arms, were delivered before his own Aug. 23 statement calling on the PKK to halt a month of violence against security forces “without ifs or buts.”
Turkey has launched more than 400 air strikes against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, where the armed group is based, and in southeast Turkey since late July, in what it says is a response to attacks on police officers and soldiers. Ankara blames the autonomy-seeking PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, for the deaths of 40,000 people, since it took up arms in 1984.
Call for half of cabinet seats to women
Demirtaş also said on Aug. 25 that his party was ready to take part in an interim power-sharing government but he would “not be surprised” if the prime minister tries to form a cabinet without the HDP.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan formally called for fresh parliamentary elections late on Aug. 24 in a widely anticipated move after two months of coalition talks failed to produce a coalition government ahead of a deadline.
Demirtaş’s remarks were delivered around an hour before Erdoğan’s scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in order to officially hand over the mandate to form a temporary power-sharing government ahead of an election slated for Nov. 1.
Demirtaş said he believed all his party’s deputies were eligible for cabinet positions, apart from its co-leaders, who would be responsible for election preparations. He also warned against efforts to exclude the HDP.
“We will have no hesitation in exercising our constitutional right and participating in the government. But we should not be surprised if they breach the constitution and try to form a government without the HDP. Such an attempt would be rejected by the Constitutional Court,” he said, adding that his party would not be too particular about which cabinet portfolios it may be offered but half of any cabinet should be made up of women.
“I am calling on Davutoğlu. Half of Turkey’s population is made up of women. So half of the election cabinet should also be composed of women,” Demirtaş said.
With a total of 32 women deputies, the HDP has the highest ratio of women deputies out of all four parties in parliament.
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