During a speech to security officers, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu praised individuals who beat officials from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the only pro-Kurdish political party in Turkey’s parliament, Demokrat Haber reported.
Referring to accusations claiming that the HDP is involved in forcing young people to join outlawed Kurdish militant groups, Soylu said parents of the young people had beaten unnamed officials from the party in retaliation.
“Congratulations to them, they’ve done well,” Soylu said.
The interior minister’s remarks come during a period of extreme pressure on the HDP, which many view as key in the upcoming national elections, expected next year.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has ratcheted up the pressure on the country’s political movement since a peace process broke down with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015.
As a result, HDP members and officials have come under increased threat both of arrest and of physical violence.
Many view the government’s hard-line, repressive stance as a way to foster Turkish nationalist support and divide the opposition bloc, which includes nationalists who refuse to collaborate with the pro-Kurdish HDP.
As a result, voters in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast have seen their elected mayors removed and replaced with government appointees, HDP MPs and co-leaders prosecuted and jailed, and MPs and activists from the party assaulted and manhandled by police officers.
Two HDP deputies, Habip Eksik and Sait Dede, were beaten by police during a demonstration demanding the release of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in October. Eksik underwent surgery for a fractured leg after the assault.
Another HDP MP, Semra Güzel, was roughly manhandled as she was arrested in September for alleged terror links.