The PKK terrorist organization caused major harm to Turkey and Turkish society, particularly to Kurdish citizens, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.
Speaking at a rally in southeastern Şanlıurfa province, Erdoğan pointed out that the terrorist acts of the PKK targeted civilians, causing the killing of thousands.
"These [PKK terrorists] killed unborn babies, innocent children and caused grief in many families," Erdoğan said, noting that when the terrorist organization failed to fight against the Turkish army, it targeted civilians, from teachers to health officers, road workers to farmers.
"This organization never had the aim to defend the rights of our Kurdish brothers or any group in the region," he noted.
In early 2013, under then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan, the Turkish government launched an initiative publicly known as the resolution process to end the decades-old conflict with the PKK.
The process stalled in 2015 after the murder of a number of police officers and soldiers, which the PKK claimed responsibility for.
Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including children, women and the elderly. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Touching upon the previous problems of Kurdish citizens, such as poverty, negligence and pressure, Erdoğan said that although these problems were widespread all around the country, in the southeastern region they were more apparent.
"We've taken over such a Turkey. We immediately took action, taking steps on education, health, justice, transformation and energy fields. Yet, they [PKK] still tried to divide our country," the president said. Showing video clips of senior Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) figures in which they support the PKK. HDP mayors have also been accused of undermining municipal services, allowing the PKK to dig ditches on streets and launch attacks on police and soldiers. As a result, Turkey removed the elected administrations of 93 municipalities in the region for their links to the PKK terrorist group and appointed trustees to these municipalities in 2016.
The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of close links with the PKK. The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Also, some of its members have been charged or accused of having links to the terrorist organization. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda.
Erdoğan also underlined that there is no region in Turkey called "Kurdistan."
Last week, during a joint event organized for the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Şişli district mayoral candidate, Muammer Keskin, the HDP's Şişli district head gave a speech in which he expressed his support for Keskin, while referring to eastern Anatolia as "Kurdistan."
"In ‘Kurdistan,' we will take back all the municipalities that have trustees. In the other part of Turkey, on the other hand, we will not let the People's Alliance win," the HDP member said, mentioning the country as if it consists of two separate states.