Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR
Ahmet Türk, dismissed mayor of the southeastern Mardin province, has said that the government's attempts to exclude the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) from politics is “giving a great damage to Turkey.”
Türk, who was removed from his post as mayor in 2016 and again in 2019 after his re-election, made the comments on Feb. 8 during a publicity meeting of the HDP's new campaign “Justice for All.”
Türke's remarks came in response to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's repeated calls for the HDP's closure.
“These have been tried before as well. So far, our four-five parties have been closed. But Kurds and those who believe in democracy have never given up on this struggle. If the party was closed again today, we have a responsibility to reorganize and again conduct politics. A solution would be found and we would again gather. But those running the country with these anti-democratic implementations which are excluding Kurds in Turkey, are in fact giving a great damage to the country,” he said.
The government needs to “turn away from this wrong policy. Closing parties, appointing trustee does not solve any problems,” he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), did not make any comment in the face of his staunch ally Bahçeli's repeated calls for the HDP's closure.
AKP executives on the other hand dismissed Bahçeli's demand, saying party closures in Turkey had never seen a positive outcome.
Asked if there was a “fracture” within the AKP-MHP coalition with regards to this issue, Türk said that the AKP has not yet attempted to shut down the HDP due to such a move's “costs” but instead is running a policy of rendering the party ineffective.
“There is a rulership which does not close the party but wants to render the party ineffective. The AKP is staying silent because the HDP's closure does not benefit it very much. Because if the party is closed, it will go again for an organization and will take up works to strengthen democracy,” he said.
Türk also commented on Erdoğan's recent call for drafting a new constitution saying that this is “completely a diversion” attempt. “We think that the rulership has no chance of drafting a libertarian constitution, as it does not even comply with the current laws. This is completely a diversion policy. The rulership, which has lost power, is trying to give the image that it is doing something new,” he said.
Erdoğan’s AKP-government accuses the HDP of having links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders.
Since March 2019 local elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the roughly 65 municipalities won by the HDP. Ankara has appointed governors and other local authorities as trustees in those districts.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent party members accused of supporting terrorism.