Başaran: You don't have to choose the lesser evil, there is an alternative, and it's HDP!

“Society is not without solutions and alternatives. You don't have to choose the lesser evil. There is a third way and social force that is being recreated every day from across society; her name is HDP,” says Ayşe Acar Başaran.

The women's movement is the focus of repression in Turkey. The Kurdish lawyer and politician Ayşe Acar Başaran sees the aggressiveness of the Turkish regime against free women as a sign of panic. Başaran, who is a member of parliament for the HDP and is spokeswoman for her party's women's council, believes that the Islamist-nationalist AKP-MHP governing coalition wants to remove all obstacles to the institutionalization of its own regime and that one of the most important obstacles is the resistance of women. “The women are preventing this coalition from securing the regime they want. That is why women's self-determination, struggle and achievements are constantly under attack. Especially from the perspective that women's freedom is the sine qua non of democracy and women's liberation actually creates social freedom and transformation, women have waged the greatest struggle in this process. It was the women who faced the heaviest attacks, but also put up the greatest resistance and fought back. We have made great progress in these processes,” Başaran told ANF.

Women will not give up their achievements

From co-presidency to parity representation, from the amendment of the Civil Code to the signing of the Istanbul Convention, Başaran pointed to the achievements of women who, at each stage, paid a heavy price for empowering women and promoting their participation in politics, society and the economy. “Women don't want to give up that legacy because they know what they have to lose. After the male-dominated force defeated us thousands of years ago, there is a female force again, finding and rebuilding her strength. Women never stopped resisting. After the declaration of the state of emergency and the introduction of presidential decrees in 2016, the first opposition to this government came again from women. The AKP/MHP alliance saw its chance to get rid of the women’s movement in the coronavirus pandemic. And failed. There is a women's struggle that stands by its word. This continues without interruption. Of course, mistakes happen too. We cannot say that we managed the process absolutely in the correct way. We deal with it self-critically, but ultimately it is very important for women to survive at this time. Our own achievements are very important. Especially given this government that grants us nothing but death.”

Women will not give up the Istanbul Convention

Başaran spoke about the timing of the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, stating that the women's movement will not recognize the withdrawal of the treaty by the one-man regime, nor the approval of the Higher Administrative Court to annul it. “The Istanbul Convention came about at a time when the power of women's struggle was at its highest. This agreement has been won by women with great effort. To achieve this, women took their cases to international institutions. They fought for it on the streets and in the squares. The convention was named after Istanbul because Turkey was the first signatory state. The AKP-MHP alliance gradually robbed women of their achievements. With the Penal Code, perpetrators who were incarcerated for violence against women and children were released from prison. Although officially permitted to a certain extent, abortion is actually forbidden in Turkey. The civil law is currently being discussed. No man can decide for us. Whether the President or someone else. Men need to stop speaking on our behalf and making decisions on our behalf. Was the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention legitimate with the approval of the Higher Administrative Court? No, the Istanbul Convention is still in force. We have never asked for the treaty to be re-signed.”

The struggle of the Kurdish women creates social transformation

"The struggle of the Kurdish women and the solution they propose are also of great importance for the women in Turkey," Başaran continued, adding: "We fight on several fronts at the same time. While we are fighting for our identity, our language, on the one hand, we are also fighting for the liberation of women on the other. Indeed, the historical experiences, victories and achievements as well as the social transformation of Kurdish women are clearly visible. This is exactly why they are fought so hard. The struggles of maybe dozens of others like our friend Saliha Aydeniz, Aysel Tuğluk, Semra Güzel, Sebahat Tuncel and Gültan Kışanak have been targeted. Because the government knows that once the struggle of Kurdish women is suppressed, society as a whole can be suppressed. That is why there is such massive repression. The Kurdish women's struggle has brought about enormous social change. We can see that the Kurdish women are making changes through their self-reliant and autonomous organization. These include changes in political parties or the founding of the world's first women's news agency. With the Jineolojî [Women's Science], the Kurdish women's movement has indeed promoted a science that states that history can also be interpreted outside of a male-dominated perspective. Aysel Tuğluk is being held in prison despite suffering from dementia, a serious illness that is making her memory fade a little more every day, and is making her unable to meet her own needs in daily life. We also know very well that Saliha Aydeniz's case is not about resisting the police. The DBP leader is threatened to be stripped of her political immunity for ‘resisting state authority’ because of her participation in a demonstration demanding to lift the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.

Hostility towards Kurds continues

Başaran emphasized that the attacks on Kurdish women are part of the hostility towards Kurds and said: "They are mainly trying to push Kurdish women back. One measure of this is the transformation of the judiciary, another the war policy, especially against Kurdish women in Kurdistan and Turkey. Rape is used as a weapon. They try to discredit women. Attempts are being made to prosecute the TJA movement - an independent, autonomous, organized women's movement. An organization where women come together to organize their own lives. It is one of the institutions operating worldwide. Their mechanisms, models and alternatives are attacked. It's all part of that policy. The highest point of hostility towards Kurdish society is actually hostility towards their women. We are talking about a movement of women who have been oppressed, ignored and exploited for years and which is today creating a model that can give an inspiring example to societies around the world, like the Rojava model. Not only did women fight against ISIS barbarism, they also built an alternative society. They showed a new way of life against the capitalist system. It is precisely for this reason that they are so vehemently attacked. Of course, there is also repression against feminist women's and women's movements in Turkey, but you also have to see that there is a double attack here that is part of an anti-Kurdish policy.”

The solution lies in our common struggle

Turkey has seen the 80s, 90s and 2000s and every government that could not or did not want to solve the problems has lost, Başaran stressed. The politician predicted that the AKP-MHP government would also fail and said: “Even if they appear very strong at the moment, society should recognize that it is actually just a bubble. They keep making diplomatic attacks, but always come back empty-handed. The government is trying to solve the economic crisis, which has become a Gordian knot, with some kind of consolation that only makes everything worse. By repressing the Kurdish women's movement, the government only increases resistance against itself. I think people are aware of that. This society finally sees light at the end of this dark tunnel. The solution lies in our common struggle. We have to develop that further. Society is not without solutions and alternatives. You don't have to choose a lesser evil. There is a third way and there is a social force that recreates itself every day from across society; her name is HDP. She defies all attacks against her. Putting up with so much resistance isn't for everyone. If the AKP itself were to be confronted directly with the violence used against us just for a week, you can be sure that such a government would not exist again. The HDP exists because it is the hope.”