Başaran: We will not allow the closure of the HDP

HDP Deputy co-chair Ayşe Acar Başaran said, "We are prepared for all eventualities, but we will not let the HDP be closed down no matter what. We will continue our struggle against all attacks."

The Supreme Court's Chief Public Prosecutor, Bekir Şahin, is calling for the permanent dissolution of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on the grounds that it "aims to disrupt and eliminate the indivisible integrity of the state of its country and nation." A ban on political activity is to be imposed on 687 party members, including co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan. The indictment was submitted to the Supreme Court on March 17, 2021. The Constitutional Court conducted the first review of the case on March 31, 2021, and initially remanded it to the Supreme Court Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office due to deficiencies. A revised version was finally adopted by the Constitutional Court on June 21, 2021. The adoption of the indictment and its sending to the HDP marked the beginning of the two-month period for preliminary defense. The HDP Legal Commission requested an additional four-month period. On September 2, 2021, the Constitutional Court decided to give the HDP 30 more days. On November 5, 2021, the HDP submitted its written defense to the Constitutional Court. On November 29, the Chief Public Prosecutor Court of Cassation, Bekir Şahin, submitted his opinion on the case to the court. Şahin demanded that the motions in the HDP's preliminary defense be dismissed. He argued that the party should be permanently closed and those due to whose actions the closure took place should be barred from politics for five years. On January 20, 2022, the Court of Cassation sent the HDP the opinion of the Supreme Court Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and gave it 30 days to prepare its defense. The court rejected the party's request to send the defense to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. A bias motion against Constitutional Court Judge Irfan Fidan was also rejected. On April 19, 2022, the HDP submitted its 220-page written defense. A decision is still pending.

HDP represents a model of self-organization that goes far beyond the classic state-fixated party character. Commenting on the upcoming 2023 elections, HDP deputy co-chair Ayşe Acar Başaran said: "With the third way, we do not mean an alliance against two electoral alliances (that of the CHP and that of the AKP). We are trying to convey that there is another way, based on democratic foundations, ecological criteria and gender liberation. We are talking about a project that is not just about an election campaign, but a permanent struggle."

In an interview with ANF, HDP Deputy Co-Chair Ayşe Acar Başaran talked about the history and present of the struggle of Kurdish party politics.

"Our tradition of struggle continues"

In the past 32 years, seven Kurdish parties have been banned. How do you evaluate these attacks on Kurdish democratic politics?

Making democratic politics in Turkey is in itself a difficult task. Those who pursue a political line that includes the needs of women, youth and society are constantly targeted. Although governments have changed, democracy has never been realized. Turkey has a political atmosphere in which there had been small developments from time to time, but they were always limited by coups. Therefore, it becomes very difficult to conduct democratic politics in Turkey. Turkey is the country with the highest number of party bans in the world, where parties are subject to massive repression and where politicians are arrested or murdered. Turkey has never admitted its problems. Even when it does so selectively, no solution is discussed. The problem is the Kurdish question, which has been going on for centuries. Our previously closed parties are an indication that the governments have not been able to solve the Kurdish question by democratic means. Just as the policy of leaving the Kurdish question unresolved has not changed, neither has our struggle. The parties from whose tradition we come have not changed their determination to struggle either. The question of Kurdish existence and the Kurdish language has not disappeared and so our tradition of struggle continues.

"The struggle of the Kurds continues"

We have seen that the fate of the governments that have not solved the Kurdish question has been less than edifying. What kind of an end does the AKP expect in this context?

Previous governments had come to power promising a solution to the Kurdish issue and an end to the war and conflict, but they did nothing of what they had announced. This was because war and blood were two important factors that were necessary for them to maintain their power. Like his predecessors, Erdoğan promised when he came to power to democratize Turkey, to find a solution to the Kurdish question and to end the war. But a little later, like the governments before him, he stood up and claimed that there was no Kurdish issue. The governments that have not solved this problem have dissolved themselves. All the governments that did not solve the Kurdish question and proceeded with wrong methods have been forgotten. Formations like ANAP, DYP, DP and Refah are history. Their names are forgotten today, but the Kurdish struggle continues. The Kurdish people do not take a step back. They stick to their demands and become stronger. They even fight for the development of democracy in Turkey.

"The HDP is not a building that can be closed, but a growing idea"

Polls for the upcoming parliamentary elections show your party playing a key role. What would happen if your party was closed?

First of all, we need to see how society reacts to the closure of our party. The Newroz festival was the strongest reaction to the plans to close the party. We had one of the most magnificent Newroz celebrations in history. Millions were in the streets and the people made it clear, "We are here." The government may see the HDP as just a building with a lock on the door, but the party is an idea that is fermenting and growing in Turkey because society is no longer satisfied with the government's policies. Our women's councils have traveled from city to city with the slogan "No to Women's Poverty" and everywhere we went it became clear that society has great hope in the HDP. Therefore, closing the HDP would mean attacking the hope of the society.

"We are prepared for all eventualities"

What will you do if your party is closed?

We are prepared for all possible eventualities, but we will not let the HDP be closed no matter what. We will continue our struggle for the HDP despite all attacks. When the time comes, we will discuss this with the people and take appropriate steps.

In addition to the Kurdish political movement, there are other components within the HDP. How are these dealing with the threat of a party ban?

Our party appeals to a larger audience than it seems, because many people are advocating for it. We have put forward a model that did not exist in Turkish politics. All components of the HDP also consider the attacks on our party as an attack on Turkey’s democracy. Our voters are already part of this struggle, but the politicians who support democracy and freedoms, but are not part of our party, also stand by us.

"Our project is not about electioneering but a permanent fight"

Your party keeps talking about the third way. At what stage are your efforts in this regard?

With the third way, we do not mean an alliance against two electoral alliances (that of the CHP and that of the AKP). In this country, there is a party that is built on a hundred-year-old state mentality, and apart from that, there is another political pole that has dragged society into the abyss with its policies over the past 20 years. In light of this, we emphasize the need for a very different path. Actually, we even assume that this path is necessary not only for this country, but for the whole world. If we look at the developments in the Middle East, we can see what has developed in Rojava. We are trying to convey that there is another way, based on democratic foundations, ecological criteria and gender liberation. There are those who sometimes see this as a "third coalition," but we offer a broader model as an alternative. We are not talking about a third coalition here. We are talking about a project that is not just about an election campaign, but a permanent struggle.