Open letter to British Prime Minister: HDP's vital political voice must not be silenced

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign sent an open letter to the British Prime Minister about the Kobane Trial saying that the HDP's vital political voice must not be silenced.

The Peace in Kurdistan Campaign sent an open letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, about the Kobane Trial, saying that the HDP's vital political voice must not be silenced.

The letter said: "The so-called “Kobane Trial” against the HDP in Turkey which starts Wednesday 15 March 2023 is a trial whose outcome will have far-reaching implications for the future of democracy in the country and for the Turkish state’s relations with its large Kurdish population.

The trial cannot be viewed in isolation but as part of the various measures taken by the AKP government headed by President Erdogan against the HDP, which is the country’s third largest political party and one that commands mass support among the Kurdish community. The trial is without doubt an attempt by the government to weaken the HDP’s electoral base and to erode its support, to render it politically ineffective and, in effect, to eliminate it from the political scene."

The letter continues: "The actions targeting the HDP have been going on for years but have been increased as the country moves closer to the May elections, which pose a challenge to the majority enjoyed by Erdogan’s party, which is now under increased pressure as a result of its handling of the recent earthquake. Should Erdogan fail to secure a majority in this anniversary year, it will be interpreted as a massive public political humiliation for him personally and a huge defeat for the party that has dominated Turkish politics for many years. Such an outcome will be seen as a repudiation of Erdogan’s approach to the Kurdish issue, which has been one consisting entirely of repression and treating them as enemies of the state. " 

Peace in Kurdistan underlined that if "support for the HDP holds up and it does well in the May poll, its success could deprive Erdogan of his majority. Erdogan is fully aware of this and has therefore embarked on a series of administrative measures and legal actions to ensure that the party cannot function freely, by arresting party leaders and elected members, using every method available to weaken and hamper the party’s normal activities and campaigning. The trial should be seen in this framework.

The ultimate aim would be to ban the party, which would deprive the Kurdish voters of a strong, clear voice in national politics and deny them any effective representation. This would be a huge blow to the future of democracy inside the country and could lead to significant social unrest among the Kurdish population, heralding a period of political instability that may have far wider consequences beyond Turkey’s borders.

At stake, therefore, is not simply the future of one political party alone, but the stability of a major UK ally and what is a strategically important country in a very volatile region."

The statement continued: "In view of this, we therefore call upon the UK Government to exert its influence to ensure that the HDP is not banned, and that Erdogan shows full respect for democratic norms in the country. The Kurds are entitled to vote for the party of their choice. This is their basic democratic right which they have exercised in successive elections by voting for the HDP in increasing numbers.

The HDP is a responsible political party fully committed to pursuing its demands through the democratic process. It is giving a necessary political voice to the Kurds and showing that their grievances can be remedied through peaceful democratic political action. For the Kurds, who suffer disproportionate discrimination and neglect in Turkey, the HDP represents hope."

Peace in Kurdistan said that "banning the party would be a terrible regression, setting back democracy inside Turkey," and continued: "It would be a harsh lesson for the Kurds who feel the system is heavily stacked against them already and many would start to lose faith in the democratic process entirely. The consequences of this should be deeply alarming for you as they are for us."

Peace in Kurdistan urged the British PM "to send government representatives to observe the trial proceedings when the court deliberates the case this week.

We urge the British government to voice your concerns with the Turkish government about the issue and the wider implications.

We urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that democratic processes in Turkey are followed and respected and that the Kurds are not deprived of this vital political voice.

There has rightly been much sympathy for the people of Turkey following the devastating earthquake and their continued plight demands our support, but equally the world cannot simply ignore this important trial and the direct assault on Kurdish political rights."