Pro-Kurdish HDP calls for early election and rules out leaving Turkish parliament

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called for an early election and announced that they will not withdraw from the Turkish parliament, the party’s co-chairs declared on Wednesday.

In a 12-article statement in the capital Ankara on Wednesday, HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli declared how the pro-Kurdish party will react to the ruling AK Party (AKP) government’s recent dismissal of dozens of its mayors.

Since August, a total of 24 out of 69 pro-Kurdish provincial and district mayors were removed from their offices by the ruling AKP over alleged links to terrorism and were replaced with state-appointed officials.

A total of 19 pro-Kurdish co-mayors have also been arrested on terror-related charges in the same period.

The ousted mayors won the seats during the March 31 local poll, where the AKP lost a number of Turkey’s largest cities to the main opposition partly because HDP urged its supporters in the country’s west to cast strategic votes for opposition mayoral candidates from other parties.

The co-chairs on Wednesday underlined that the HDP ruled out leaving the national parliament or the local assemblies it still holds, saying that they “will not withdraw from any area of struggle” that they paid “heavy prices” to achieve.

“Despite facing a comprehensive, systematic, and multi-faceted attack in all aspects of life, including local administrations, HDP will continue its struggle on democratic and legitimate grounds with great determination. Our goal is to flourish democratic politics, not run it over,” they explained.

They added that by appointing trustees Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were “stealing the will of the peoples” and “silencing opposition.”

“Seeing trustee policies as solely an attack on HDP, municipalities, and the Kurdish people means being unaware of strategic plans of the administration. … This is also a problem for anyone living in this country who wants democracy, the rule of law, justice and peace,” the pro-Kurdish leaders noted.

Temelli and Buldan also called for an early election with a stated aim to “rescue people of Turkey from the tyranny of AKP-MHP.”

“This is a call for confrontation. We are challenging you!” they said, addressing the AKP-MHP bloc.

They also appealed for a campaign of civil disobedience. “We call on all of the opposition to unite around this request [for an early election] and to take action.”

HDP called on each opposition party, non-governmental organization, union and democratic foundation wishing democracy, peace, and justice instead of “oppressive and fascist conceptions” in this geography to support active solidarity, united struggle and an alliance of democracy.

Evaluating HDP’s call for an early election to Gonca Tokyol from the T24 news portal on Wednesday, CHP’s deputy chairman Veli Agbaba said Turkey does not need it.

He said, however, the option can still be discussed for the provinces and districts previously run by HDP that are taken over by the ruling AKP.

“Like our leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu stated before, we don’t think that Turkey needs a new election now. It can be argued in provinces and districts run by state-appointed trustees but it’s not included in our current agenda,” Agbaba outlined.

He underlined that the appointment of trustees to replace democratically-elected mayors cannot be accepted.

“CHP will always oppose such anti-democratic moves no matter who does it or who is affected by it.”

Erdogan and his ruling AKP blame the HDP for having connections to the Kurdish separatists in Turkey known as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Regarded as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the PKK has led an insurgency in the country’s mainly-Kurdish southeast for more than three decades.

Hundreds of the HDP members, including its lawmakers and former co-leaders, have faced trial on terrorism charges and many of those have been sentenced to jail.

The pro-Kurdish party has been the only group in the Turkish parliament that objected to Turkey’s military operation targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) launched in northeast Syria in early October.

Ankara deems the YPG militia as a terrorist organization, claiming that it is the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed PKK.

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