Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Monday said Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş was deserving of the death penalty for his role in 2014 protest deaths, on Tuesday called Demirtaş the “top terrorist,” the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
Targeting Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce during an election rally in Eskişehir province, Erdoğan said: “For example, what does this man [İnce] think about Turkey’s fight against terrorism? What can you expect from a person [İnce] who visited top terrorist [Demirtaş] in Edirne Prison?”
Erdoğan also said he received intelligence that almost all the attendees at İnce’s election rally in Diyarbakır were HDP supporters.
Accusing Demirtaş of responsibility for the deaths of 53 people during street protests in 2014, Erdoğan at an election rally in Kocaeli on Sunday said Demirtaş was deserving of the death penalty, saying he would have approved legislation immediately if the Turkish parliament had voted to bring back capital punishment.
Demirtaş on Monday challenged Erdoğan over remarks he made on the “Kobani protests,” during which 53 people died, and capital punishment, saying he has never been sued over the deaths in the Kobani protests.
Correcting the number of people killed to 43 including 33 HDP supporters, six Free Cause Party (HÜDA PAR) supporters, two Syrian refugees and two security force members, Demirtaş said: “During the five months following the Kobani events, our meetings with Erdoğan and [his ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP over the settlement process [to resolve the Kurdish problem] continued. In other words, Erdoğan continued to meet for five months with us, who he now labels ‘terrorists’.”
Demirtaş also said 12 motions submitted by the HDP for investigation of provocateurs and instigators of the Kobani incidents were rejected by AKP votes in parliament.
The HDP’s candidate ended his flood of tweets with a call to Erdoğan: “O Erdoğan! This is the biggest opportunity in political history: I will withdraw my presidential candidacy if you can put the call you claim I made for the killing of 53 people below this tweet by June 24.”
Demirtaş was the HDP’s co-chairperson when he was jailed on Nov. 4, 2016 along with several other party deputies as well as the party’s other co-chairperson, Figen Yüksekdağ.