Kurdish ministers quit Turkey govt in protest over conflict

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Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs Ali Haydar Konca (L) and Development Minister Muslum Dogan hold a press conference at the headquarters of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Ankara on September 22, 2015, after resigning from the interim government. (AFP)

Two Kurdish ministers accused Turkey’s government of promoting a “logic of war” as they quit the cabinet on Tuesday, two months after the resumption of fighting between the army and Kurdish rebels.

EU Affairs Minister Ali Haydar Konca and Development Minister Muslum Dogan said the state’s two-month-old offensive against the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had created a “hellish” situation “especially in the Kurdish cities”.

“A logic of war has been put into place,” Konca, who is a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), told a press conference, describing the climate in the country as worse than under martial law in the 1990s.

Lamenting the loss of life among the “police, soldiers, guerrillas, women, children and the elderly” Konca said “both the palace (the presidency) and the (ruling party) AKP send the message that this war will be continued on a larger scale.”

The resignations were seen as dealing a further setback to the peace process and ceasefire between the government and PKK, which broke down in July after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an “anti-terrorism” offensive against the militants. 

The HDP rejects the government’s allegations that it is a front for the PKK, which has been blamed for a string of attacks that have killed dozens of soldiers and police in recent weeks, since the fighting resumed.

While enjoying some support among non-Kurds, the HDP is generally seen as defending Kurdish interests.

Konca and Dogan were brought into government after an inconclusive election in June, which led to the formation of a caretaker cabinet tasked with running the country until snap elections on November 1.

The June vote dealt a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which failed to win a governing majority for the first time in 13 years after losing seats to the HDP.

The HDP was the biggest winner of the vote, gaining representation in parliament — and later in government — for the first time in the history of a pro-Kurdish party.

A statement from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said he had accepted their resignations and that neither would be immediately replaced, NTV channel reported. 

NTV said the two ministers, who have been vocal critics of the AKP, resigned over a debate on terrorism during a weekly cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara. 

Their exit leaves no opposition figures in the government as it presses a relentless campaign of airstrikes against PKK bases in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq which pro-government media say has killed over 1,000 rebels.

The military has also carried out ground operations aimed at flushing the PKK out of mainly Kurdish southeastern cities.

The army’s nine-day curfew of the mainly Kurdish city of Cizre earlier this month caused particular outrage among Kurds. The HDP claimed 23 civilians were killed in the operation. The government said up to 32 rebels died.

AFP

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