Jailed former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said that he wishes the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) would fully disarm and give up its armed struggle against the Turkish state. However, Demirtaş said, there are “two main obstacles.”
Demirtaş made the comments during an interview with journalist Murat Sabuncu from the online news outlet T24.
“The HDP is not the PKK's extension, mouthpiece or supporter. It has no connection to the PKK. We need to be able to explain this to the Turkish public. A party that runs a democratic politics cannot have a connection to an armed organization,” Demirtaş said.
Demirtaş said that the HDP's solution to the Kurdish issue is “the most realistic one” among other political parties and it is based on “dialogue and negotiation” instead of “military operation.”
“It is important to explain to society that dialogue and negotiation is the only solution. No one can see the HDP as an extension of the PKK because of this perspective,” he said.
Demirtaş said that the Kurdish issue cannot be solved on a ground that involves violence which is why the PKK needs to give up its arms. “Both the state and the PKK need to take the [Kurdish] problem out of the ground of violence. I would want the PKK to fully silence and give up arms, if it is possible. But there are two main obstacles, and everyone needs to know these,” he said.
The first obstacle is that the government is not considering or debating any other solution option other than a military operation, Demirtaş said. “On the other hand, we [HDP] argue that the PKK needs to be convinced.”
The second obstacle is the isolation imposed on jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, according to Demirtaş. “Because Öcalan is the person who can persuade the PKK; and they are keeping him in isolation [on İmralı Island] for years. I would be happy if the PKK silences its arms despite these obstacles. But our previous experiences have unfortunately shown that this has not been easy,” Demirtaş said.
Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016. He faces hundreds of years in prison on charges related to the PKK despite a previous European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that he was imprisoned on political grounds and should be released immediately.