Turkey’s Demirtas condemns Istanbul bombing from jail cell, calling for peace

Peoples' Democracy co-chair says solidarity can overcome violence


Turkey’s imprisoned left-wing opposition leader has condemned the bombing of an Istanbul football stadium, saying people ‘should not abandon’ working for peace.

Selhattin Demirtaş and fellow Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ are in custody pending trial for what are widely considered trumped up charges of supporting terrorism.

Forty-four people were killed and more than 150 wounded by two bombings – a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb – outside Beşiktaş football stadium on Saturday.

The HDP has acted as a go-between for Kurdish-Turkish peace talks, and is a left-wing coalition which advocates multiculturalism and devolution to local democratic assemblies.

In a letter written from his jail cell – where he has suffered heart problems and been denied medical care – Demirtaş wrote:

“I condemn in the strongest terms the atrocious massacre that took place in Istanbul [on] Saturday.

I wish God’s mercy upon all our people who lost their lives in the attack, and offer my condolences to and wish patience for their relatives. I wish a rapid recovery to all our injured citizens.

I call upon all our society, our people to stand together in hope around opposition to violence, and [feelings of] peace, sisterhood and brotherhood, democracy and freedom.”

He concluded:

“However difficult our circumstances, we should not abandon our claim for peace, to which we attribute sacred value, and we should not lose our hopes.

We must succeed in overcoming this difficult period with solidarity to guide our country out of these turbulent waters.”

The attacks on Saturday were claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish government said it has detained 235 people in 11 cities following the bombing, adding to the thousands arrested or detained by President Erdogan since a foiled coup attempt in July.

War between the PKK and the Turkish government restarted after a long truce in June 2015 after the HDP won enough seats to enter parliament and block the majority Erdogan needed to rewrite the Turkish constitution in his favour.

Kurdish cities in eastern Turkey have since been bombarded and held under curfew, while a number of terrorist bombings have struck Turkey, with some claimed by TAK and others by ISIS jihadists.

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Boris Johnson defends Turkey’s Erdogan on death penalty

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