The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey are facing state repression, arrest and incarceration as punishment for their success in elections. They need our support, and there is a simple way we can all help.
The Turkish state will not tolerate the attempts of the HDP to forge a path for the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish Question. The HDP represent a huge hope for Kurds and progressive Turks - a democratic socialist, feminist and pro-Kurdish party that wants to transform Turkey away from its current authoritarian, patriarchal, theocratic politics.
The HDP need our solidarity. Thus far, the Turkish state has been able to act with impunity in their crushing of democratic opposition. If you are a member of the Labour Party, you can seek to put pressure on the Labour frontbench to speak out against Turkey's attack on the HDP and to express solidarity with their politicians and activists in prison. If Labour speak out about this, it will worry President Erdogan - there is a good chance that Labour will form the next government.
In the build up to the one year anniversary of the arrest of the HDP co-leaders Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, we can demand that Labour MPs take action. If you are a Labour member, please submit a motion to your local branch, which can then go to your CLP if it passes, after which your secretary and MP (if you have one) will be obligated to take action. If you want to find out about how to submit motions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a model motion that you can use:
November 4th will mark one year since Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, the leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were arrested and imprisoned. The HDP is a democratic socialist, feminist, pro-Kurdish rights party in Turkey facing huge state repression. Currently nine elected MPs, 88 elected mayors and 5000 activists of the HDP remain in prison.
Last January, Theresa May flew from her meeting with Donald Trump in Washington straight to Turkey to meet with President Erdogan, where she announced arms deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds. This is all the more egregious given Turkey’s human rights records, killing Kurdish citizens and razing their towns and villages to the ground. In the last two years the Kurdish regions of Sirnak, Silopi and Cizre have been completely destroyed, leaving one million displaced people. The HDP won its first seats in the parliamentary elections of June 2015, partly in reaction to these horrific attacks against Kurds in Turkey, articulating a peaceful and democratic way forward for a resolution to the Kurdish question and the rights of Kurds to representation and self-determination. Threatened by its popularity, the Turkish President withdrew the parliamentary immunity of the elected representatives, after which they were arrested for the content of speeches delivered years before the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity. This is unconstitutional. There are serious concerns over the way in which the trials have been carried out – international observers, including diplomats based in Turkey, have been turned away from courtrooms, depriving the politicians of public trials. Again, this is unconstitutional.
At Labour Party conference this year, a fringe event hosted by Unite the Union and Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan included on its panel the HDP MP for Van, Bedia Özgökçe. This was particularly brave of her since she has multiple charges against her and risks arrest leaving and entering the country.
Against the background of the Turkish Government's flagrant disregard for democratic processes and for its citizen's basic human rights:
- We applaud the courage of Bedia Özgökçe and her colleagues in the HDP, and note the political space given by Unite the Union and the Labour Party for democratic debate on this subject
- We recognise the gross human rights violations that our government is complicit in through its arming of Turkey
- We offer our solidarity with the Peoples’ Democratic Party, its politicians and activists
- We call on the Labour frontbench to recognise the repression of the HDP, extend its solidarity with socialist parliamentarians currently imprisoned, and call for their immediate release