‘Solidarity selfie’ campaign for jailed HDP members in Australia

‘Solidarity selfie’ campaign draws support for persecuted Kurdish mayors and MPs in Turkey.

A ‘solidarity selfie’ campaign has drawn the support of Australian mayors, councillors, MPs, artists, religious leaders, trade unionists and activists for Kurdish mayors and parliamentarians who have been undemocratically removed from office and imprisoned by the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The persecuted Kurdish mayors and MPs belong to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) one of the major opposition parties in parliament in Turkey.

A Kurdish solidarity group called Rojava Solidarity (Sydney) initiated the campaign which asks people to take a “selfie” with a sign indicating their solidarity and/or record a short video message of solidarity. A common hashtag #Solidarity4HDPfromAustralia is used to share the “solidarity selfies” on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt, was the first Australian mayor to do a “solidarity selfie” and many city and regional councillors from around the country. These include Sue Bolton (Moreland Councillor), Rob Pyne (Cairns Regional Councillor), Marghanita da Cruz (Inner West Sydney Councillor) and Sam Wainwright (Fremantle Councillor).

NSW Green MPs David Shoebridge, Jenny Leong and Jamie Parker joined the campaign and Shoebridge moved a motion of solidarity in the state Parliament of NSW with the persecuted HDP mayors and MPs. Former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon also did a “solidarity selfie”.

The Reverend Bill Crews, a prominent Australian Christian cleric, joined in the solidarity campaign.

Artist Vivian Messimeris, whose ‘Women Of Rojava’ series of screen prints have won awards, was an early participant in the campaign.

“We are using this campaign to inform the Australian community about the brutal persecution of the Kurds by the Turkish state,” Peter Boyle from Rojava Solidarity (Sydney) explained.

“We hope this will win more ‘mountains’ for the Kurdish people whose liberation struggle has set an example of inclusiveness, grassroots democracy and gender equality in the Middle East. It is this example that tyrants like Erdogan fear and hate.”

● 45 of the 65 municipalities the HDP won in March 2019 have been seized and 22 co-mayors have been arrested.

● On June 5, Turkish authorities also detained two HDP parliamentarians – one of them the prominent Kurdish woman leader Leyla Guven – after removing their parliamentary status.

Similar attacks happened before last year’s election. Between 2016 and 2018, the Turkish government had previously seized 95 of the 102 Kurdish municipalities and arrested 93 of its mayors. The majority of them are still imprisoned.

Former HDP co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were among 13 HDP MPs arrested in that period. Additionally, around 15,000 HDP members and functionaries were detained. Around 5000 of those are still imprisoned.