Categorized | Turkey

Turkish opposition leader calls Erdogan ‘tinpot dictator’

NOVANEWS

© www.japantimes.co.jp
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation against leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, after he called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “tinpot dictator.” The chief prosecutor’s office in Ankara launched the probe against Kilicdaroglu on charges of “openly insulting the president,” the official Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.

Kilicdaroglu, who was speaking out against the president at a CHP congress over the weekend, slammed Erdogan over the detention of Turkish academics last week for filling a petition in condemnation of Ankara’s military crackdown in the Kurdish-dominated southeast.

“Academics who express their opinion are being detained, one by one, because of a tinpot dictator,” Kilicdaroglu had told the meeting, saying in an address to Erdogan, “How dare you send police to these peoples’ doors and have them detained. Tell us, tinpot dictator, what do honor and pride mean to you? Either you maintain your impartiality and get respect or I will remind you every day what honor and pride mean,” he added.

Erdogan, himself, has separately filed a civil lawsuit against Kilicdaroglu, seeking 100,000 Turkish Liras ($33,300) in compensation for “slander” from the CHP leader, the private NTV channel said. Erdogan had in June last year filed another lawsuit against Kilicdaroglu for “slander” after the opposition leader said the president’s vast palace in Ankara had gold-plated toilet seats.

Concerns have mounted in recent months over freedom of expression in Turkey, in particular over the spiraling numbers of Turks being taken to court on charges of insulting Erdogan, who is accused by his opponents of promoting authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag criticized Kilicdaroglu for the comments against the president, writing on Twitter, “Only those who lack intelligence, knowledge, and morality can insult others like that under the disguise of freedom of expression.”

Prosecutors on Thursday began a large investigation into over 1,200 academics for engaging in “terrorist propaganda” by signing a petition, urging Ankara to halt “its deliberate massacres” in the Kurdish-majority region. On Friday Turkish police detained at least 18 of them, sparking freshinternational concerns over restrictions on freedom of expression in Turkey.

The developments come as the Turkish army has been engaged in large-scale offensives against militants of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in southeastern regions since last July. The renewed violence shattered a fragile two-and-a-half-year ceasefire between the two sides.

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey said recently that as many as 162 civilians have been killed in the restive regions placed under a government-imposed curfew since August 2015. The PKK, seeking autonomy in Turkey’s southeast, launched its militancy against Turkey in 1984. So far, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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