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Iran Press TV

Opposition warns of 'ethnic civil war' in Turkey

Iran Press TV

Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:24AM

The leader of a Turkish opposition party has warned of an "ethnic civil war" in the country as a result of growing divisions between Kurds and Turks.

"The war in Syria is tied to the conflict here because the Turkish government sees Kurds in Turkey and in Syria as one," said Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

The Turkish government has been hitting the positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey as well as in northern Iraq and Syria over the past months.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015 after a deadly bombing in the southern Kurdish town of Suruc, which claimed the lives of more than 30 people and wounded dozens more.

"It is impossible to have peace in Syria without peace in southeast Turkey," Demirtas said in an interview with The Irish Times.

He pointed to the dire humanitarian situation in the southeastern parts of Turkey, which are home to ethnic Kurds, calling for urgent humanitarian aid.

"More than 500,000 Kurds have left their homes because of the clashes and thousands of people have no shelter, no place to live; only tents," Demirtas said.

"There are more than 10 residential areas now completely destroyed. They need humanitarian aid urgently," he added.

The Turkish parliament on Friday introduced a bill to grant immunity to soldiers who are involved in operations against "terrorist" groups.

According to the bill, whose draft was produced by the Defense Ministry, if security services commit an offence, it will be deemed as a "military crime" and therefore, will only be tried in a military court.

The bill also maintains that the permission of the Turkish prime minister would be required for the investigation and trial processes of commanders and the chief of general staff.

It also covers Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) personnel and civil servants "tasked within the battle against terrorism."

The HDP has strongly censured the bill as a "coup agreement between the government and the military," warning that the new law would give unprecedented powers to the military.

Last week, Erdogan claimed that the government forces had killed over 7,600 members of the PKK in Iraq and Turkey, a toll which has been highly disputed by the group.

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