Sezai Temelli, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has said that Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu should either quit his post or be dismissed by the government authorities, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Wednesday.
The statement followed Soylu’s threat “to ruin” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, from the secular opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), due to the mayor’s recent visit to the ousted HDP mayors.
Three Kurdish mayors of southeastern Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces were ousted on August 19 and replaced with state-appointed officials over claims of using their posts to engage in terrorist activities.
Speaking to Ozlem Akarsu Celik from Gazete Duvar on Wednesday, Temelli said that an investigation should be launched into claims against Soylu and that he should either resign or be suspended from his post immediately.
Temelli also referred to the claim reported by Tunca Ogreten of the Deutsche Welle Turkish service, that Soylu received nearly 40,000 lira worth of silverware as a gift from Mardin Governor Mustafa Yaman – the official who previously replaced the ousted mayor of the city.
The replacement in August was the second time that Yaman was appointed to the Mardin Municipality by the Interior Ministry, the first being in the aftermath of 2016’s coup attempt targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP government.
A law enacted in September 2016, following the putsch bid, granted the Interior Ministry the right to dismiss mayors and municipal council members from their posts, which led to the replacement of 95 democratically elected HDP mayors, with 71 of them arrested on terror charges.
“Know your place… If you don’t do your job and deal with some other stuff, we will ruin you,” Soylu said, addressing Imamoglu after his visit of solidarity to Kurdish politicians and critics in Diyarbakir, who took aim at the ruling AK Party (AKP) for replacing the democratically elected mayors.
During his recent meeting with two of the ousted mayors, Imamoglu expressed his support for them and labeled their government-led dismissals “illegal and undemocratic.”
“Instead of answering to the claims against him, the interior minister is attacking HDP in a hurry to hide his guilt, and he cannot even accept a solidarity visit to our party,” Temelli stated on Wednesday.
The HDP chair held forth that Soylu is always “the leading actor” behind Turkey’s main problems, such as “the obtained mindset that supports trustees and the state of emergency, the violence that is made to dominate the country, the hate speech and the aggressive attitude.”
“He is an interior minister who always endeavors to leave problems unsolved and adds fuel to the fire. Now, we can only see moral corruption [in Soylu] at a time when those in power are also exhausted and without politics [to make things right],” Temelli added.
The ruling AKP blames HDP for having connections with the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.
PKK, an armed rebellious group, has waged an almost four-decade-long insurgency in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern part of Turkey.
“The AKP has been using the same perception management, the aggressive language and the psychological war against the HDP since a ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK broke down in July 2015,” Temelli further indicated.
Claiming that interior ministers before Soylu used the same methods, Temelli added: “However, this individual has been acting as if he has never heard of morals, respect or political customs. He is a lunatic who is not even taken seriously by his own party.”
HDP leader claimed that both the AKP government and Soylu are being persistent in their “lies and slander” in order to cover up their own offenses.
“They are using the same methods, not just for us but for everybody who is in solidarity with us, as in the case of threat to ruin [Imamoglu]. The interior minister finds the courage to engage in these reckless acts in the politics of the president and the AKP-MHP bloc,” Temelli argued.
The AKP-MHP bloc, also referred to as the People’s Alliance, is an electoral coalition established in February 2018 between the ruling AKP and its main ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).