A war of words has broken out between the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas. Mr. Demirtas, who is Kurdish, leads a party that unites the Kurdish nationalist forces and Turkey’s left-wing groups. Until recently, he and the HDP have called for more rights for the Kurdish population within Turkey rather than for the creation of a Kurdish state out of Turkey. The Kurds in Turkey are spread out across the country, with Istanbul having the largest concentration (one million Kurds). Nonetheless, the majority of the Kurdish population lives in the country’s south-east, which has been the epicentre of demands for self-determination. In late December, Mr. Demirtas backed a resolution passed by the Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK), which reiterated an old demand for the creation of Kurdish “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”. Mr. Erdogan called Mr. Demirtas’ action “treason”.
“Much of the explanation for the assault on the Kurds is to be found in Turkey’s failed policy in Syria.” Picture shows Kurds clashing with the Turkish police as they protest against the curfew imposed in Kurdish towns, in Diyarbakir.