Turkey’s most prominent Kurdish politician and co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, said on Monday they should not abandon efforts to achieve peace after the Istanbul attack last Saturday that killed over 38.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the atrocious massacre that took place in Istanbul Saturday. I wish God’s mercy upon all our people who lost their lives in the attack, and offer my condolences to and wish patience for their relatives. I wish a rapid recovery to all our injured citizens,” Demirtaş said about the attack for which the PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility.
“I call upon all our society, our people to stand together in hope around opposition to violence, and [feelings of] peace, sisterhood and brotherhood, democracy and freedom,” the Kurdish leader said in a written letter released by his lawyer.
Demirtaş has been in prison since 3 November, when the Turkish security forces broke into his house in Diyarbakir and arrested him for criticizing President Erdogan’s crackdown against Kurdish communities and the erosion of political freedoms in Turkey.
“However difficult our circumstances, we should not abandon our claim for peace, to which we attribute sacred value, and we should not lose our hopes. We must succeed in overcoming this difficult period with solidarity to guide our country out of these turbulent waters,” he concluded.
After the Istanbul attack, over 235 people were detained for links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), including officials from the pro-Kurdish HDP party.
Since the failed coup in July 2016, Turkey has increased its crackdown on Kurdish organizations, and arrested several HDP-politicians, including the co-heads of the HDP parties.
At least 1,700 people were killed since the breakdown of the two-and-a-half-year ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK in July 2015, data from the International Crisis Group shows. Also, over half million Kurds were displaced and several Kurdish cities destroyed by the Turkish security forces.