Ankara, Sep 9 () - Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has become the first senior government official to condemn consecutive violent attacks targeting daily Hürriyet, describing them as “very awful.”
“The presence of very awful attacks against some press bodies in recent days have been troubling all of us” Kurtulmuş said at a press conference on Sept. 9, without explicitly citing the name of the Hürriyet headquarters and Ankara printing center. Both were subject to violent attacks on the night of Sept. 8, marking a second similar incident after attacks early on Sept. 7.
“As the government, we curse these incidents and we also condemn the powers behind these incidents” Kurtulmuş added.
“We openly state that we will never tolerate these attacks against media institutions. An investigation will be launched into all those linked to the incidents” he said.
Hürriyet’s Istanbul headquarters and Ankara offices were pelted with stones by club-wielding protesters on Sept. 8, less than 48 hours after a similar attack by Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters.
The raid on Sept. 8 came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan renewed his strong criticism of Hürriyet, accusing it of “distorting” his words.
Interior Minister Selami Altınok meanwhile told Sept. 7 that “no concession will be given regarding principles of the rule of law and public order,” adding that he instructed the Istanbul Governor’s Office to take all measures for the protection of Hürriyet’s HQ and offered his sympathies to the daily.
Kurtulmuş has also pledged the government will not be trapped by plots aimed at dividing the country’s people along ethnic and sectarian lines, while refuting claims his Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been igniting a campaign against the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“One of the most significant arguments of those who want to destroy the peace and unity of this country is setting the Turk against the Kurd and the Alevi against the Sunni. We will not be deceived by this plot. We should all be diligent. In this country, the Turk, the Kurd, the Alevi and the Sunni have no chance other than living together. We will proceed on our way all together and peacefully by preserving our fraternity and neighborhood,” Kurtulmuş said at a press conference on Sept. 9, amid rising conflict.
Polarization in the entire country has dramatically grown following daily clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants since two years of de facto non-conflict collapsed in July.
“We will overcome these difficult times. Standing tall in the face of terror and treason and by knowing our enemy, we will proceed on our way for this country’s unity and peace” Kurtulmuş said, blaming the PKK for ending the non-conflict situation.
In strongly-worded remarks, the deputy prime minister also ruled out claims the AKP has been manipulating attacks against the HDP.
“Citing the AK Parti [AKP], the government as having manipulated attacks against the HDP buildings is entirely lying” Kurtulmuş said. He underlined the government has been on the contrary exerting intense efforts to protect HDP buildings.
Earlier in the day, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş accused the government of supporting a campaign of “lynching” and dragging the country into war after two nights of attacks against its offices.
Nationalist demonstrators targeted dozens of HDP offices overnight in demonstrations following a succession of deadly attacks on the armed forces blamed on the PKK. Late on Sept. 8, a HDP office in the capital Ankara was attacked and torched while another branch in the southern city of Alanya was also set on fire.
“We may not embrace members of a political party and works conducted by a political party. We may react against. Voicing our reaction against terror in democratic ways is a right for everybody. But while doing so, harming political parties which are one of the important components of democracy and harming parties which have representatives in parliament through winning votes from people is not acceptable,” Kurtulmuş said.
Demirtaş had stated earlier more than 400 attacks on HDP properties were carried out in the last two days. “We are facing a campaign of lynching” he said.