Don’t be ungrateful, Erdogan tells protesting workers at rally

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a brief break from a speech on Saturday to reprimand a group of subcontracted workers who demanded permanent jobs, telling them to stop being ungrateful.

“Don’t be ungrateful. You have a job, don’t be ungrateful,” Erdogan told the group who was shouting slogans demanding permanent jobs as he was delivering a speech to supporters in the southeastern province of Batman.

Erdogan told them to follow statements made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu regarding the issue and said “steps will be taken after the elections” on June 7. “Stop provocation. 20-30 people come together and engage in provocation,” Erdogan said, angrily.

The workers were reportedly employed by a company on behalf of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). Subcontracted workers, whose numbers across Turkey has surged over the past years, are frequently denied the social security, insurance and overtime benefits that a salaried or staffed worker is entitled to.

— Preaching Zoroastrianism

During his speech, Erdogan attacked the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has a strong base in Batman and other southeastern provinces, without openly naming it.

“Look at what they are saying: They are going to abolish [the Religious Affairs Directorate] Diyanet! Because they have nothing to do with religion,” he said, in reference to a HDP election campaign promise to that effect.

Erdogan also slammed the HDP politicians, saying they claim Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. “They would not say this if they had the slightest relation with religion,” he said.

Apparently referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), he also claimed to have documents proving that they teach Zoroastrianism in mountain camps.

Erdogan’s visit to Batman and other southeastern provinces already caused tension when mayors of the predominantly Kurdish provinces announced on Friday that they will not attend planned programs of Erdogan due to concerns that the president will campaign for the ruling party during the visits.

As promised, Batman’s mayor refused to welcome him at his arrival.

Erdogan, for his part, criticized the “filth” in Batman streets and said Batman has suffered deeply from neglect and underdevelopment.

A statement released by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on Friday night said mayors of Diyarbakir, Batman and Siirt decided not to welcome and attend programs of Erdogan scheduled for Saturday in their cities. The statement said Erdogan’s recent remarks on the settlement process as well as the Erdogan’s failure to be impartial as a president and his turning his local visits to election campaigns for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party ) lie behind the mayors’ decision.

The opposition has been voicing criticism over Erdogan’s rallies ahead of the parliamentary elections slated for June 7, saying he openly violates Article No. 103 of the Turkish Constitution, which covers the president’s oath and clearly states that the president must assure the public that he will remain impartial while performing his duties.

Erdogan, a founding leader of the AK Party who was elected as president on Aug. 10, has been calling on people to vote for the ruling party, without uttering its name, and give it the power to make a new constitution in the parliamentary elections slated for June 7 during rallies he hold across Turkey.

AK Party is widely expected to be unable to secure enough seats in Parliament to comfortably press for constitutional changes if the HDP manages to pass a 10-percent election threshold and enters Parliament.