HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— A high-profile delegation from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan capital city of Erbil on Saturday for talks with Kurdistan region’s authorities and political leaders.
Co-chair Sezai Temelli led the HDP delegation.
As part of their four-day visit, the delegation met with Massoud Barzani, the leader of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The HDP delegation are expected to sit with other senior Kurdish officials in the coming days to discuss the latest developments in the region.
“Our presence here today is very important because, as you know, the main issues in the world are in the Middle East.
The resolution of these issues includes the will and struggle of Kurds,” Temelli told reporters after arriving at Erbil International Airport.
During Saturday’s meeting, both sides “exchanged views on various matters including regional issues and the unity of Kurds,” the HDP said on its official Twitter page.
In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Massoud Barzani said the two sides “spoke of, among other topics, the current political situation of the Kurds in Turkey, hoping for and working in pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue there.”
We are “looking for a democratic process to establish security and stability in the region, especially for the Kurds,” Temelli said In a press conference after the meeting with Barzani
The HDP has faced waves of crackdown by Turkish authorities that worsened after a failed military coup attempt in July 2016, which led to the arrest of both the HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, as well as thousands of party members – despite their condemnation of the putsch.
The visit comes after Turkey’s Interior Ministry removed democratically-elected Kurdish mayors of the country’s three major Kurdish provinces of Diyarbakir, Mardin, and Van in August 2019 over alleged links to Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK.
Turkish president Erdogan often accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, but the Kurdish party denies such links and says it is being targeted because of its opposition to the government.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population. More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
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