DEM Party Co-Chairs start election campaign tour in Kurdistan

DEM Party co-chairs Tuncer Bakırhan and Tülay Hatimoğulları have started their month-long campaign tour in eastern Turkey, calling for an end to the trustee administration of Kurdish municipalities in the local elections in March.

The Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) co-chairs Tuncer Bakırhan and Tülay Hatimoğulları have started a month-long election campaign tour in Kurdistan for the local elections to be held in Turkey on 31 March.

The DEM Party has taken over from the HDP, which is under threat of being banned, and is in favour of decentralising the political system of government and taking regional characteristics into account. The DEM Party is going into the local elections with the demand to solve the Kurdish question and to put the general question of democracy in Turkey back on the agenda in order to overcome the numerous crises in the country. The party published a corresponding strategy paper in December. Ardahan and Hakkari, Turkey's easternmost provinces, were chosen for the start of the two-pronged campaign tour. Ardahan is located in the north-east of the country on the border with Georgia, while Hakkari in the south-east borders Iraq and Iran.


Kurdish politician Tuncer Bakırhan arrived in the district of Şemdinli in Hakkari on Thursday morning and opened a campaign office. "We are starting in Şemdinli and Şemdinli will win these elections. The people will give an answer to those who do not recognise the Kurdish people and call Kurdish an unknown language. Our struggle is a struggle for our existence. The representatives of all other parties, who are traveling all over Turkey these days, do not even dare to use the word 'Kurdish'. Thirty million Kurds live in this country. The Kurdish people have never marginalised the other population groups and want to live in dignity on their own soil," said the co-chair of the DEM party in a speech.

In Şemdinli, a trustee was appointed by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior after the penultimate local elections, and in almost all Kurdish municipalities the elected co-mayors were removed and arrested. Bakırhan stated: "The last time a trustee was appointed, your will was ignored and handed over to a state official. And what happened then? There were no services or public projects, the Kurds were marginalised. In the next elections, the population was deceived and intimidated in order to allow the other side to win with a tiny margin of victory. This time too, 2000 voters from other places in Turkey were registered here. With these people from Aksaray or Amasya, they want to enter the city hall, which is electoral fraud. We have to give an answer to this on 31 March."


Tuncer Bakırhan travelled on to the Yüksekova (kr: Gever) district after opening the campaign office, where he and his team were welcomed by a large crowd. Addressing the people, Bakırhan said:

We are very happy to launch the election campaign in Gever today. Dear people of Gever, other political parties have started election campaigns in big cities. We gave our election start from Şemdinli, Gever and Hakkari. We know very well what this means and how precious it is. Because Gever has an upright people like the honourable Mount Cilo. I commemorate all those who fought and fell for us to live in search of peace. While they were murdering these people they said, 'you will see the power of the Turks'. We say, 'you too will see the power of the Kurd, the power of Gever'. The honourable people of Gever never did and will never bow down to unsolved murders, massacres and the trustee mentality. We learn great lessons from this stance of Gever."

Speaking about the usurpation of Kurdish municipalities through the appointment of trustees, Bakırhan said, "A trustee is unemployment, irregularities and a state official who mortgages the future of the Kurdish people. What has the trustee in Gever done? This trustee competes with metropolises such as Ankara and Istanbul in terms of debt. Gever Municipality has a debt of 1 billion TL. Is Gever Istanbul, Mersin or Ankara? What service did they provide for the people? They are not ashamed of debt, corruption and irregularities. They are not ashamed of theft. The honourable women and youth of Gever will teach a lesson to this understanding that appoints trustees to the will of Gever, ignores the language, removes Kurdish signs and defines the language of the Kurdish people as an unknown language. We promise you that we will share with you what all the trustees who committed corruption and irregularities before us did. We promise that in a democratic republic, we will hold these thefts and corruption to account. The trustee pocketed 1 billion TL together with his cronies."


DEM Party Co-Chair Tülay Hatimoğulları, on the other hand, launched the local election campaign of her party at Haptan City Square in Göle district of Ardahan. Before the meeting in the square, the people of the district welcomed Hatimoğulları and entered the district in a convoy. The people welcomed the party members entering the district with victory signs and applause.

Addressing the crowd, Hatimoğulları stated that the district of Göle is known for the struggle of its people and revolutionaries. Giving the example of Akif Yılmaz and Cemil Kırbayır, Hatimoğulları said, "This was the first stop we started after submitting the lists. As the DEM Party, we say DEM is here, especially to the government and its partners who want to prevent us from doing politics in this country. The DEM Party is here despite your arrests. We will win here. Our co-mayors will lead ecological and democratic municipalism for the people of Göle. Do those who remember the people of Göle and Ardahan only before the elections ask you about your problems and needs after having themselves elected? No. We will never vote for those who do not ask this. Göle may be the coldest city in Turkey in terms of climate, but I thank you for your warm welcome."


Tülay Hatimoğulları then attended the public meeting organised in Kars. Hundreds of people attended the meeting in front of the party building, where co-mayoral candidates Arzu Savaş Derman and Kenan Karahancı greeted the people.

Tülay Hatimoğulları said, "Today we are in Kars, which has been home to all different peoples and beliefs. Kars means DEM. Because DEM, just like Kars, is a party where all different peoples and beliefs do politics together. Even though they try to imprison us, we are here by breaking our borders, by breaking the borders they have drawn."

Tülay Hatimoğulları stated that everyone should participate in the election work with great devotion and said, "We will knock on every door. In Kars, the AKP government left the municipality to its junior partner MHP. They made such an agreement. Look, the junior partner is working hand in hand with the senior partner, making enmity against Kurds in Turkey and Kurdistan. They are hostile to all peoples. Yesterday was International Mother Language Day. While our deputies were speaking in their mother tongues in the parliament, the MHP deputy speaker of the parliament turned off the microphone when Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian and Syriac were spoken. This is how hostile they are to peoples. This is how hostile they are to languages. It is not necessary to vote for them, not even to greet them. Kars knows this very well. Kars will achieve this.”

Tülay Hatimoğulları continued: "A trustee was appointed to our city. The trustee removed the Kurdish signboard, closed our women's centres and targeted our co-presidency system. We will regain our municipalities, and we will embrace our municipalities together with our people. We will give the biggest answer to the trustee mentality together with you, our valuable people. Will Kars vote for those who appointed trustees to our municipalities and their partners? Will Kars vote for the mentality that bans Kurdish and all languages on International Mother Language Day? Will Kars vote for a mentality that ignores women, targets the co-presidency system and closes women's organisations? Will Kars vote for those who dress up in betrayal politics and say, 'I am the candidate of Kars’? We will vote for democratic municipalism. Of course, our votes will suit the DEM Party, Kars will suit DEM, DEM will suit Kars."