The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is a democratic socialist party in Turkey which promotes gender equality and Kurdish rights. In June 2015, the party ran in its first national elections, breaking the 10% threshold to gain 80 seats in parliament. Over half the candidates were women and they ran the first openly gay candidate, Barış Sulu.
After this initial success, the HDP faced incredible repression from the Turkish state. Elected representatives have been arrested, imprisoned, subject to torture and interrogation, had their parliamentary immunity removed, been removed from office, and so on. On November 4th 2016 the co-chairs of the party and elected MPs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were arrested and imprisoned.
The HDP represent the political desires of over 6 million people in Turkey. They seek justice for the oppressed and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. By locking up 9 MPs, 88 mayors and 5000 activists, the Turkish government's attempt to stifle democracy leaves millions unrepresented in the political system and denies them of their democratic rights.
The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign has been attending the hearings of the trials of HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, which have been one-day hearings spaced months apart. This helps the Turkish state in its mission to shut the HDP off from international solidarity, but the HDP have explicitly said that we must not be put off by this. The next hearings are in February and we want to bring as many politicians and trade unionists with us as possible. If you can, please donate to our fund to take a delegation to Ankara for the trials.
What can we do in solidarity with the HDP?
- If you're a member of the Labour Party, propose a motion in solidarity with the HDP at your local branch or CLP meeting. There is a model motion you can use here, and it's very straightforward. This will provoke discussion around this issue with your fellow members and raise awareness amongst the labour and trade union movement.
- Write to the prisoners. The names and addresses of the prisoners are listed on the HDP website here. Can you imagine the prison guards reporting a flood of letters for them from the UK?
- Break the silence. Instead of relying on the mainstream media, share news directly to your friends and contacts about the HDP.
- Lobby your local MP or Mayor to twin with an HDP MP. There are 9 MPs and 88 Mayors currently in jail. If elected representatives in this country are encouraged to have a direct personal connection to HDP representatives then they are more likely to push for their release, if/when they are arrested or locked up