Interior minister accuses pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike of ethnic provocation

Turkey’s Interior Minister, Süleyman Soylu, on Saturday blasted former pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Güven over her ongoing hunger strike to protest the treatment of jailed  leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), independent news site T24 reported.

Soylu slammed protestors who gathered in front of Güven’s house in the southern province of Diyarbakır to show solidarity with the Kurdish politician.

“They are looking for ways to reignite matters over ethnic backgrounds,‘’ Soylu said in an apparent reference to Güven and other HDP lawmakers.

Güven, who is both the co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress, an umbrella organisation for Kurdish groups, and a HDP deputy, was released from prison on Jan. 24, after a deterioration of her health, almost a year after being arrested for criticising Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militias in northwest Syria.

The 54-year-old politician began a hunger strike last November over the Turkish state’s treatment of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over 30 years.

‘’Terrorist are dying now, we are killing terrorists. They are trying to go their funerals. Let’s see them go, let’s see them,‘’ Soylu said.

Ankara accuses HDP lawmakers of having sympathies and acting in the interest of the PKK.
Eight HDP deputies are currently behind bars in Turkey, including former co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, as part of the Turkish government’s crackdown on the group.

A Turkish court on Friday sentenced two veteran Kurdish politicians, Gülten Kışanak and Sebahat Tuncel, to lengthy prison terms.