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Exclusive: Turkey's President files criminal complaint against exiled Kurdish MP for anti-war speech in London

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a criminal complaint against a leading exiled Kurdish politician for a speech he gave in London opposing the invasion and war in Syria.

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Urfa Osman Baydemir is charged with “insulting the Turkish state” after he spoke at Sunday’s 20,000 strong demonstration.

Mr Baydemir, who already faces a 117-year jail sentence, said outside the BBC headquarters: “Who is a terrorist, who is a dictator? Who kills the Kurds? Who kills children and women?” referring to Mr Erdogan.

He continued: “Now we all have to crush fascism together. Now we all have to stop the massacre in Rojava. If we don’t do this now, history will repeat itself, like the Armenian genocide in 1915. 

“We have to see the relationship between Erdogan and Isis. This relationship continues as it did yesterday.”

Mr Erdogan’s lawyer Huseyin Aydin filed a petition with the Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office and stated that Mr Baydemir’s speech was a crime.

But Mr Baydemir told the Star the charges were not a surprise and vowed to carry on speaking the truth “until peace, until democracy.”

“Hundreds of my friends from HDP are in jail,” he said, “including 11 of the party’s MPs thrown into prison just because of their statements against the government.

“In Turkey nobody can speak out against the war and occupation. This is what we want to explain to the Western world,” he said.

“This is what is happening in my country. But I will always oppose fascism, and always be against dictatorship. It doesn’t matter what charges they bring against me.”

He described Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria as “total war against Kurds.”

“It is being waged to occupy Rojava, to occupy another country. But it is breaking international law and an abuse of human rights,” the former MP explained.

“For every single death, of every civilian or anybody killed only one person is responsible — Mr Erdogan and his government.”

Highlighting the peaceful nature of the people of northern Syria, he said: “Nobody from Rojava has harmed Turkey. But there are war crimes being committed in Syria,” he said.

“The Turkish state has been bombing Nusaybin and Suruc [towns in Turkey] and saying the attacks have come from Syria. They have been killing civilians. 

“But it is not true. Everyone knows in Suruc and Qamishlo because they are Kurdish.

“I will continue to speak the truth until peace, until democracy, until we crush fascism,” he said.

Mr Baydemir urged the international left to support the anti-war activists in Turkey and support the HDP — the only party in the country to oppose the war.

It comes as the HDP and those opposing Turkey’s invasion of the largely Kurdish region of northern Syria are coming under increasing attack from the Turkish state.

Party sources told the Star that 151 HDP activists have been detained since the war started with four democratically elected co-mayors arrested yesterday morning.

They are being held on trumped-up terrorism charges. 

HDP co-leader Pervin Buldan accused the government of violating the rights of Kurdish people domestically and said the operation in Syria was being waged against the Kurdish people.

“The domestic enmity against Kurds is continuing on northern Syrian soil,” Buldan said.

“If Kurds were to plant a flower in a pot, (...) they would call it a ‘terrorist pot’ and shoot it with tanks and cannons,” she added.

Criminal investigations are underway into Ms Buldan and fellow co-chair Sezai Temelli for speaking out against Turkey’s war.

More than 500 social media accounts are also being investigated for spreading “terrorist propaganda” for criticising Turkey’s war.

During Operation Olive Branch, Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin launched in January 2018, more than 800 arrests were made over social media posts opposing military action.

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