President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Mustafa Akinci says he has received death threats following his opposition to Turkey’s military action against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, Demiroren News Agency (DHA) reported on Friday.
Ankara has been keeping a firm grip on Turkish citizens criticizing the Syrian incursion dubbed Operation Peace Spring, which started on October 9.
The Turkish authorities detained more than 100 people on charges of insulting the operation.
“Now, even if we say Operation Peace Spring, what is being spilled is not water, it is blood,” said Akinci denouncing the invasion.
He also drew a parallel between the last operation and Turkey’s 1974 military intervention to Cyprus which is split between the Republic of Cyprus and Turks.
His remarks drew rebuff from Ankara.
“I condemn [Mustafa] Akinci who ignores the fact that Operation Peace Spring is taking place against the bloody terrorist organization PKK/PYD for the stability of the region,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay hit back at the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Ankara argues that the US backed-Kurdish militias in northern Syria are an extension of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which has waged decades-old-insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
Following a backlash by several officials from the Turkish ruling AK Party over his remarks, Akinci announced he had received death threats.
He then filed a criminal complaint with the Turkish Cypriot prosecutor’s office and the General Directorate of Turkish Cypriot Police on October 17.
“Some people have chosen to insult me instead of telling their opinions, some of them even went so far as to make death threats in response to opinions I expressed in my statement a few days ago. We will never make concessions to express ideas freely on this land,” he added.
The Northern Cyprus authorities were asked to take necessary measures against those who threaten Akıncı with death, according to a statement released by his office.
On the 10th day of the Turkish operation, Amnesty International quoted the Kurdish-led administration of northern Syria as announcing at least 218 civilians have been killed as of October 17 since the offensive began.
The organization blamed Ankara for carrying out “serious violations and war crimes” during the incursion.