The pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) used its offices to recruit terrorists for the PKK terrorist organization, and is constantly in touch with them, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said.
"They used their provincial headquarters as recruitment centers for the terrorist organization and we've seen how they used the municipalities they governed," Soylu said in a live interview with CNN Türk Sunday, noting that the party had previously mobilized everything in its power, including scoops and construction equipment to help the PKK dig ditches in eastern Turkey.
The HDP has many times drawn fire for transferring taxpayer money and funds to the PKK, a globally recognized terrorist group. HDP mayors and local officials have been found to misuse funds in support of the PKK terrorist group and provide jobs to PKK sympathizers.
Its mayors have also been accused of undermining municipal services, allowing the PKK to dig ditches on the streets and launch attacks on police and soldiers when the terrorist group adopted an urban warfare strategy in July 2015 and ended a two-year reconciliation period. HDP municipalities and their staff were also found to be actively participating in terrorist attacks launched after July 2015.
Soylu said that the PKK terrorist organization's senior leader Cemil Bayık instructed HDP-governed municipalities to support the local Amedspor football team, according to intelligence reports.
"I commissioned an inspector and an auditor to analyze this and found out that the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality, Silvan Municipality and others sent funds to the football team right after Bayık's statements," Soylu said, adding that the connection cannot be ignored.
The HDP, long facing public reaction and judicial probes over its ties to the PKK, is under pressure due to the growing civilian protest movement launched by mothers and local families.
The HDP is known for encouraging young people to join the terrorist organization. Children abducted by the PKK are first radicalized by the HDP. The would-be recruits are then used as an instrument for propaganda and are forced to work. Specialists define four stages of radicalization, the first of which is brainwashing, thereby encouraging the young to join the terrorist organization. This is followed by the armament, violation and finally, leaving to join the organization in the mountains.
The PKK has been involved in a 30-year campaign of terror against Turkey. The terrorist organization is responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Meanwhile, Soylu also said Turkey deported nearly 780 foreign terrorist fighters back to their countries in 2019.
"We have sent 778 foreign terrorist fighters back to their countries of origin since the beginning of the year," Soylu said.
Soylu did not mention whether all of them were linked to the Daesh terror group.
There are some 1,200 foreign Daesh members being held in Turkish prisons and nearly 300 were held in Turkey's current anti-terror operation in northern Syria, including relatives of Daesh members, Soylu announced on Nov. 4.
Ankara continues to deport foreign terrorists to their countries of origin.
The issue of the handling of Daesh members and their families detained in Syria – including foreign members of the terror group – has been controversial, with Turkey arguing that foreign-born terrorists should be repatriated to their countries of origin while several European countries have refused, saying the terrorists were denationalized.
Since recognizing Daesh as a terror group in 2013, Turkey has been attacked by the group numerous times, including 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings and four armed attacks which killed 315 people and injured hundreds.
In response to the attacks, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad, neutralizing 3,500 Daesh terrorists and arresting 5,500.
On nationwide anti-drug and anti-terror operations, Soylu said Turkey seized 43 million cannabis roots worth TL 15 billion in 2019 and the country destroyed 2,700 shelters and seized 600 walkie-talkies used by YPG/PKK terrorists over the last two years.
Turkey has been fighting narcoterrorism and this year confiscated more than 40 tons of marijuana.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
On the number of Syrians in Turkey's largest city, Soylu said around 474,679 Syrians live in Istanbul while nearly 100,000 unregistered Syrians were sent elsewhere.
"We granted citizenship to 110,000 Syrians. Of these, 53,000 were adults and 57,000 were children," he said, adding mainly profession holders such as teachers, doctors, engineers, business people and scientists were among those given Turkish citizenship.
Soylu said around 445,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2019. He blamed Western countries for the migrant wave, without elaborating.
A total of 105,000 irregular migrants were sent back to their home countries, he said, adding the number was around 68,000 last year.
"Last year, 28,000 irregular migrants were held, while this year, the number was 117,000," Soylu said.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million fleeing Syrians, making it the world's top refugee-hosting country.