Erdo?an calls for Turkish-Kurdish unity in Diyarbak?r speech


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an addressed his supporters in Diyarbak?r rally on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an emphasized the unity of Kurds and Turks and strongly criticized the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in an election rally he held in the southeastern province of Diyarbak?r on Wednesday.
Erdo?an started his address in ?stasyon Square, where a huge crowd had gathered to hear him speak, thanking Diyarbak?r residents for supporting the government’s constitutional amendment package voted on Sept. 12, 2010, in the city where 40 percent of the voters cast ballots in the referendum, 95 percent of them voting in favor of the changes. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had called for a boycott of the referendum.
“They [THE BDP] threatened you [against voting]. They tried to scare you. But still, 40 percent of you voted, and 95 percent said yes. I thank you for your courage,” he said.

Erdo?an said the BDP appeared to be asking for freedoms and democracy, but was always resorting to anti-democratic methods such as intimidating and threatening voters. “Is this your understanding of democracy?” he asked, addressing the BDP.

“Why do they kill a Kurdish imam if they are pro-Kurdish?” he asked, referring to the murder of a Hakkari imam by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He said the BDP wanted to separate, and was using the power of the PKK. “Let’s give the apt response to those that want to separate us on June 12,” the day of the election, he said.

He said the BDP was exploiting religion, and accused them of not being religious. “They refuse to pray behind an imam appointed by the state. But they have nothing to do with religion. They say the religion of the Kurds was Zoroastrianism, although Kurds do not accept that. They see Apo [the jailed leader of the PKK] as a prophet. They are cheating; let’s teach them their lesson.”

Erdo?an also picked apart the Republican People’s Party (CHP), also accusing it of trying to suppress the people’s religion, and of being the cause of the country’s Kurdish problem. Erdo?an said recent liberal statements from CHP leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu on the Kurdish issue were only part of an election ruse.

Erdo?an said he is also a victim of the status quo and that he empathizes with the people of Diyarbak?r. “We went through the same suffering as you. Your brother [Erdo?an] was jailed for only reciting a poem. I know how the status quo made my Kurdish brothers suffer. I know well the policies of assimilation. But they are now over. Assimilation is no more. The real cause of my Kurdish brothers’ sufferings is the CHP,” Erdo?an said.

Erdo?an gave examples from the steps his party took over the past years to address the Kurdish issue. “The Kurdish issue exists in this country. But are we going to live with this problem until death? We launched our Kurdish initiative in 2009. You told us to abolish martial law in the Southeast and we did. Isn’t TRT 6 [a Kurdish channel] on air 24 hours a day? We paved the way for a permanent solution [to the Kurdish issue] for the first time,” he noted.

The prime minister pledged to solve the Kurdish issue and make a new constitution after the June 12 elections. “We will solve this problem together. We will make a new constitution and pass it together after June 12,” he said.

Erdo?an also mentioned the projects he plans to realize in Diyarbak?r. The prime minister announced the Diyarbak?r projects in ?stanbul before travelling to the province. One of Erdo?an’s major plans for Diyarbak?r is to construct a new civilian airport in the province. A military airport currently serves the province and has also been used for civilian flights.

The prime minister also announced a renovation project for Diyarbak?r’s Suriçi — the historic area of the provincial capital enclosed within thick stone walls. The historic walls, seriously damaged over the years, will be restored. The Dicle (Tigris) Valley project, which aims to construct a new and modern living space around the Tigris in which greenery and architecture will be in harmony and the construction of the Silvan Dam are other projects put forth by Erdo?an for Diyarbak?r. The prime minister also vowed to build two city hospitals and a football stadium with a capacity of 30,000 seats in Diyarbak?r as well as to construct a highway connecting the city with ?anl?urfa.

BDP reportedly threatened business owners

The Cihan news agency reported on Wednesday that business owners in Diyarbak?r were threatened by members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a PKK-affiliated umbrella organization. The businessmen were told to keep their stores closed during the prime minister’s visit.

Residents reported that they were threatened against opening their business in most of Diyarbak?r, but particularly in the Ba?lar district, and were forced to participate in a protest against Erdo?an.

Some locals complain that they were losing profits because of KCK and PKK pressure that forces businesses to frequently stay closed in protest of government policies.

A report from Cihan claimed that members of the BDP had organized a march on Tuesday night, led by BDP-endorsed independent candidate Emine Ayna, and later visited businesses in the area, telling them that they were expected to keep their shutters down. PKK members also went from door to door in Diyarbak?r, intimidating people against participating in Erdo?an’s rally, according to the same report.

A store owner whose shop is located on Emek Street in Diyarbak?r and who asked to remain anonymous out of security concerns said: “We have been suffering greatly. They have been telling us to protest against the prime minister. This time they didn’t say we have to close our store but they did tell us that ‘those who want to support the Kurdish freedom movement should keep their businesses closed.’ It is trouble if we open the stores, and it is trouble if we don’t.”

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