HDP would withdraw from parliament if voters urged it - pro-Kurdish opposition leader

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) would have withdrawn from parliament had the people made a strong call to that end, the party’s co-leader Sezai Temelli told Turkish news site Duvar on Saturday.

Mahsuni Karaman, a lawyer of jailed former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş, kickstarted a discussion last week on whether the party should completely withdraw from parliament and municipalities as a response to several mayors from the party getting arrested and the government appointing replacements for them.

“The HDP, facing a systematic and multifaceted attack in all aspects of life, including local administrations, refuses to give up the fight in any area,” party co-leaders Temelli and Pervin Buldan said in a statement.

HDP called for early general elections in the same statement. 

“We can survive all the pressure and arrests precisely because we act together with the people.” Temelli told Duvar. 

Temelli said withdrawal is among possible options, but the party has decided that it would not contribute to its struggle under current conditions.

No person involved in politics in Turkey should get used to politicians getting arrested, Temelli said. “The reality we face is not the creation of a new law of the land, it is the suspension of the law that exists.” 

There is a push to extend a state of exception into perpetuity, Temelli said, referring to the state of emergency the government had declared following a failed coup attempt in 2016 which has since been officially lifted.

“We are engaged in a great struggle to ensure that society’s reflexes are not destroyed,” Temelli said. “Despite all our efforts, I do know that some believe we have gotten used to injustice.”

This is in part due to Turkey’s media -a significant part of which is controlled by conglomerates with ties to the government- providing next to no airtime to the HDP, Temelli said. 

The HDP put forth a strategy to pave the way for an important process of transformation in Turkey in the March 2019 local elections, pulling the people out of a state of despair, when the party called for its base to cast strategic votes for opposition parties in Turkey’s major cities, Temelli said.

HDP’s support for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidates in the local elections had contributed to the party’s victory in Turkey’s financial hub Istanbul and capital Ankara, both of which had been governed by government-related mayors for over 20 years.

In case of an early election or a regularly-scheduled one in 2023, alliances will be determined not by what was done in the past  but what will be done in the future, he added. 

HDP’s future alliances will be determined by how Turkey’s parties approach the Kurdish issue in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Rojava, a name Kurds use for northern Syria, Temelli said.

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