"Time to write together a beautiful story of democratic struggle"

“Our future depends on the struggle for democracy, freedom, equality and peace, and on the solidarity, collective intelligence, and hard work that enabled the success on March 31,” HDP said.

Peoples’ Democratic Party Central Executive Board released a statement regarding the local elections held in Turkey on March 31.

In the meeting of its Central Executive Board held in Ankara on 3 April 2019, the HDP evaluated the results of local elections, the isolation on Abdullah Öcalan and hunger strikes, and shared the following statement with the public:

1. We have left behind an electoral process where all kinds of injustice and inequality, oppression and attacks were experienced. The AKP-MHP alliance carried out a grave attack campaign against our party by using all the financial and institutional resources of the state at its disposal, first and foremost the security bureaucracy.

The election process was neither democratic nor fair as the AKP-MHP alliance created a political climate to polarize the society, terrorized and criminalized political rivals, deepened sociopolitical tensions, used hate speech, and also did not ensure electoral safety.

An absolute media embargo was placed on our party; the government made extreme black propaganda against our party by means of the TRT and the Anadolu Agency, which are supposed to be public institutions funded by public tax. Intelligence records about our candidates that must have been taken from the National Intelligence Organization of the Ministry of Interior were published in violation of the Law on the Protection of Personal Data and the Constitution. Our party, our voters, the Kurdish people, the whole opposition and democratic forces experienced all kinds of attacks, oppression, and insults; leaders of the AKP-MHP alliance even threated to expel political rivals from the country.

In December and January, through joint operations of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, voters were transferred to specific areas in Kurdish provinces. Then, a disproportionate number of security personnel were assigned to the polling stations in small settlements. As if these were not enough, merging and transferring polling stations with unjustified claims and absurd reasons paved the way for all kinds of irregularities and cheating.

2. The local elections on 31 March will, as much as the general elections, impact the government, the opposition, the economy, and the society. The AKP-MHP alliance polarized peoples and beliefs; marked anybody who thinks differently as a “terrorist“; and with the propaganda of the survival of the state, it implanted fears in the society in order to collect more votes. Despite all these, the peoples of Turkey voted against the policy of the AKP-MHP that sought to polarize and divide the society, and the hate speech disseminated by them.

3. The HDP’s position as a key party against the AKP-MHP alliance, which represents social polarization and war policies, has once again been proved by election results. Policies of HDP opened up a space of coming together for all the identities that the AKP-MHP regime wants to exclude from politics or even to destroy. Our party could prove to be the force to determine election results in the general sense, and in metropolitan areas and many provinces in Western Turkey in particular. We have provided a vital breath to the peoples of Turkey by making sure that not even a single vote was wasted.

The hope that the AKP-MHP alliance can be stopped and made retreat, and that the struggle for democracy, justice, equality and freedom can win, has become prevalent again; courage has grown to replace fear.

4. The HDP determined its election strategy by making a bold decision for the peoples of Turkey and democratic forces to live together in peace. We determined this strategy to create a democratic alternative for the peoples of Turkey, which won in many metropolitan areas in Western Turkey with the powerful embracement of our peoples. We thank all the voters who gave hope to peoples of Turkey by using strategic votes and forcing the AKP-MHP alliance to retreat. This success is certainly the joint success of everybody who struggles for democracy and justice, including the HDP.

5. The electoral strategy that we designed based on a meticulous political analysis on Turkey's political direction was audaciously submitted to our peoples’ attention. The political message of election results is that our strategy was correct and embraced by our peoples. In the fight between democracy and institutionalization of fascism, our strategy enabled the former to win and set up the necessary political ground on which to build a democratic life.  

These election results have matured more than ever the possibilities for a joint democratic struggle in Western Turkey; they have shown the necessity of coming together of those who struggle for democracy, justice, and peace.

6. We will implement the most correct decisions on behalf of our people with the municipal council memberships and representational opportunities we gained in Western Turkey. We will have a decisive stance against all injustices and create a check-and-balance power.

7. In the Kurdistan geography, the strongest response was given in the ballot boxes against the trustees who usurped the will of people. These local elections were kind of a referendum on democracy, and the will of people emerged victorious against the trustees and their usurper mentality. In this respect, the usurper mentality was buried in the black pages of history. Embracing a democratic will, our people reclaimed the municipalities from the AKP-MHP alliance and usurper trustees. War, the trustee, assimilation, polarization, divisive and anti-Kurdish policies have gone totally bankrupt with the election results.

8. Having understood that our people would side with democracy against the usurper mentality, the AKP-MHP alliance tried electoral irregularities and frauds and used garrisons and the shadows of tanks through electoral engineering. The whole world witnessed how security forces were carrying “voters” (soldiers registered as voters) to the polling stations with tanks and armored vehicles, especially in Şırnak. In cities such as Siirt and Şırnak, we watched on live how policemen were transported into these cities with buses. This situation is another face of the usurper mentality of trustees, which is doomed to failure. The results have shown this.

9. Our party had some losses in these elections, too. We are committed to identifying our insufficiencies and mistakes by evaluating, in the relevant bodies of our party, the reasons why we have lost some municipalities and the messages that our people delivered in the ballot boxes. Our people should have no doubt that we will determine our insufficiencies and act according to their message. The self-critical approach is one of our most fundamental principles. We will defend the will of our people to the end. Together we will govern ourselves and our cities with the lessons learned from our mistakes and deficiencies.

10. The importance of a unified democratic national struggle has been confirmed once again with the alliance we had established with Kurdish parties in the election process. We have delivered a powerful social message to strengthen this alliance. Taking steps in this direction is of great importance for the struggle in the future.

11. With an approach of democratic municipalities, we will implement a local government model to decide, to govern, and to produce together. Our municipalities will become homes for the people; they will be institutions that produce solutions, not problems, and socialize decisions and policies.

12. Peoples of Turkey have warmly welcomed and approved the general strategy of our party. The success obtained has made the HDP a much more important actor than ever in Turkey’s politics. On this basis, we propose the following as urgent steps to normalize social political life in the country:

-For a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and Turkey's democratization, the Parliament should be provided with a political capacity and function to pursue the common interests and future of our peoples. A parliamentary commission to develop dialogue and a solution to the Kurdish question should be established with the participation of all political parties.

-The work towards a democratic Constitution should start without any delay. The new Constitution should ensure separation of powers, and guarantee all fundamental rights and freedoms, first and foremost the freedom of expression.

-The President should be impartial; he should withdraw to his/her Constitutional position and all social and political problems, especially the Kurdish issue, should be resolved through democratic methods.

-All victimizations and unlawful practices of the government after the July 20th State of Emergency Coup should be eliminated, all the regulations that have made the state of emergency rule permanent should be canceled, all public employees and academics who were unlawfully and unfairly purged should be returned to their jobs, and the banned media outlets, associations and cultural institutions should be reopened.

-Considering the current international and regional conditions, Turkey’s foreign policy should pursue the establishment of peace with a democratic Constitution in Syria and ensuring a political status for the peoples in the North-East of Syria. In this context, the government’s policies of war and conflict that deepen problems and cause chaos should be abandoned immediately.

13. The hunger strikes in Turkey, which are the most massive, the longest and the most critical in terms of their possible impacts in the history of the country, still continue. Despite all efforts, there has not been sufficient social awareness and sensitivity on the hunger strikes until now. However, as election results reveal, our people have taken up a clear position with regard to the removal of unlawful and inhumane absolute isolation imposed on Mr. Öcalan at İmralı for the last 4 years and to the demands of hunger strikers. On this basis;

-The most critical hunger strikes have historically taken place in prisons, because grave prison conditions and the isolation of prisoners from the rest of the society increase the possibility of permanent damage. Insistence on isolation policy has led to suicide actions in prisons. The primary responsible authority for these deaths in prisons is the government who insists on the politics of isolation and ignores the demands of hunger strikers.

-The AKP-MHP government must immediately end this silence on the isolation and hunger strikes and eliminate this unlawfulness.

-The demands of hunger strikers are both legitimate and legal. We will continue to support these demands. However, we emphasize once again that human life is above everything else and political suicides in prisons to protest the politics of isolation should immediately end. We can eliminate isolation policies by living and struggling together against unlawfulness and injustice.

-Since 5 April 2015, international law has been violated every single day. The isolation imposed on Mr. Öcalan is in clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and other international conventions, the United Nations Mandela Rules in particular. We call on all international institutions, especially the CPT and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, to protect the law and democratic norms and to urge more effectively Turkish authorities to end this unlawfulness.

14. Results of local elections have assigned the social opposition and democratic forces the duty and responsibility to struggle together. It should not be forgotten that the only way to make the AKP-MHP alliance retreat is to strengthen the lines of joint struggle.

It is clear that we have together opened a new page and achieved a success… We've changed the course of events, and enabled the society to take a breath. But let's not forget that these are local elections. It is now the time to take new steps to expand the struggle for democracy, peace, and justice, and to develop the grounds for joint political struggle.

Our party calls on all democratic forces, NGOs, political parties, professional associations, trade unions, associations, citizens' initiatives, women and youth movements, democrats and conscientious citizens: Now is the time to write together a beautiful story of democratic struggle.

Our future depends on the struggle for democracy, freedom, equality and peace, and on the solidarity, collective intelligence, and hard work that enabled the success on March 31st.