A scholar in Turkey who had earlier taken a role in the political administration’s attempt to manipulate Kurdish voters into denying support for the opposition candidates in Istanbul, Ankara and other big cities in the 2019 local elections, has made another appearence once again, this time with claims extending further the Turkish president’s speculations about an alleged split within the Kurdish political movement.
Ali Kemal Özcan, a professor at the Munzur University’s Sociology Department in Tunceli (Dersim), accused the imprisoned co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, for the collapse of peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) between 2013 and 2015.
He also further claimed that Demirtaş ‘insisted on being hostile towards the interlocutor’ at a time when ‘Öcalan had moved to the centre of the political sphere’ during the peace talks.
Özcan had earlier made comments on state TV just before the 2019 local elections in Turkey over a letter written by the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to officials of the HDP, in an effort to offset the call by HDP to support opposition party candidates in some of the big cities including İstanbul and Ankara.
Erdoğan’s recent speculations
On 12 January, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speculated that Demirtaş would need to ‘explain himself’ to the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. “There is a separate account to settle among them, and they will have a reckoning,” the Turkish president said, without any explanation into his remarks.
As Erdoğan’s speculations were discarded by Demirtaş as an attempt ‘to create confusion among Kurds’, Özcan stepped in, instead of Erdoğan himself or any other senior officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), for a self-styled explanation and made further speculations on Medyascope.
Özcan claimed that Demirtaş would not be able to engage in politics anymore if he was ever released from prison, and would barely keep his life.
“When Demirtaş gets out, only Abdullah Öcalan can save his life, if that,” he said.
As for the collapse of the peace talks between the government and the PKK in 2015, Özcan said Demirtaş was responsible for the collapse.
“Why did he [Demirtaş] say, ‘We won’t let you become president’ to Erdoğan?” Özcan asked, referring to a very short speech in the Turkish parliament in March 2015 by Demirtaş.
Demirtaş had said: “I come here to say a single sentence today. To repeat our promise to our people that we will not give up in our fight for democracy, peace and freedom. We are not a movement for negotiations. We will never have a dirty collaboration with AKP. In one sentence: As long as HDP exists you will not be the President. Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, we will not let you become president, we will not let you become president, we will not let you become president.”