Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accuses the leader of the main Kurdish party Selahattin Demirtas of “treason” over his call for autonomy for the country’s Kurdish minority.
In a speech at the weekend, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairman Demirtas says that Turkey’s largest ethnic minority had to decide whether to live in autonomy or “under one man’s tyranny.”
On Monday, prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against him for crimes against the constitutional order over the remarks.
“What the co-leader has done is clearly provocation, treason,” Erdogan tells reporters Tuesday at Istanbul airport before leaving for Saudi Arabia.
“This is the time when the masks have been taken off and the real faces exposed,” he says.
“How dare you talk about establishing a state in the southeast and in the east within Turkey’s existing unitary structure,” he says, addressing Demirtas.
“You cannot take such a step. Neither the national will, nor our security forces, armed forces, police, village guards will allow such a thing.”