Government not HDP to blame for Gara tragedy, says Demirtaş

Efforts to blame the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for the recent Gara tragedy are wrong-headed, Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed former leader of the party said on Thursday.

Thirteen Turkish citizens, most of whom were members of Turkey’s security and intelligence services, were killed last week during a Turkish military operation to free them from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) encampments in Gara, northern Iraq.  

Turkish officials say the hostages were executed by the PKK. This is denied by the People's Defence Forces (HPG), the military wing of the PKK, which says all 13 were killed as a result of Turkish air strikes.

In a statement on social media, Demirtaş condemned the killings.

“I sincerely share the pain of the families and send them my condolences. What it matters is to ensure peace by opposing weapons, violence and war under all circumstances,” he said.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accuse the HDP of links to the PKK. And MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has repeatedly called for the HDP to be shut down.

More than 700 people, including HDP officials, have been detained by police in the aftermath of the Gara operation.

But Demirtaş said the renewed crackdown on the HDP aimed to divert attention from the government’s own failings.

“This tragedy emerged as the result of an operation which was used as a political show instead of diplomacy. The government is the one that needs to be held account by the public.”