Selahattin Demirtas (left) with Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Karim.
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Kirkuk’s Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) has denounced Selahattin Demirtas, head of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), for visiting the city, saying Kurdish parties should not bring their issues into multi-ethnic Kirkuk.
Demirtas’s visit, the ITF charged, was part of an attempt to “erase the Turkmen identity” of Kirkuk.
“Kirkuk does not have to be part of the political rivalries since it is the heart of the Iraqi Turkmen,” read a statement by the party.
The Turkmen party sees the HDP’s visit to Kirkuk as a conspiracy against the Turkmen. It said in a statement that “nothing could erase the Turkmen identity in Kirkuk.”
The statement also read that “Selahattin Demitas’s visit is political and we deem it as part of attempts being made by Kurdish political parties to resolve problems between them. Kirkuk does not have to be get involved in this rivalry since Kirkuk has its own particularity.”
ITF is the main Turkmen party in Iraq with MPs in the Iraqi parliament. It also has a strong presence in Turkmen areas, such as Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.
The party has also urged Baghdad to express its position over Demirtas’s visit to Kirkuk.
“The Iraqi government should not be silent in the face of Demirtas's visit and they should express their stance concerning this sensitive visit,” it read.
The HDP delegation arrived in the Kurdistan Region over the weekend, holding a series of meetings with Kurdish parties and Kirkuk provincial authorities, which caused anger among the city’s Turkmen population.
Upon his arrival to the Kurdistan Region, Demirtas had explained that the purpose of his visit was to bring all Kurdish parties from the different parts of Kurdistan to an agreement in order to face existing threats and challenges.