Demirtaş says HDP rejected his presidential candidacy offer

Renowned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has said that he had previously told the HDP that he could put forward his candidacy for the May 14 presidential elections but that the party had declined this suggestion without giving any reason.

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Jailed former People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s interview with online news outlet Artı Gerçek has been published.

Demirtaş, who has been jailed since November 2016, said in the interview that he had suggested to the HDP that the party nominate him as a presidential candidate, but this suggestion had been declined.

“Before the discussions on the presidential candidacy started, I told our headquarters that I am ready to be a presidential candidate and that when the elections are left to the second round, we could make more contribution via democratic moves at that stage. Also, I said that my candidacy can increase our party’s vote rate. But this suggestion has been declined without giving any reason. I still do not know what the reason is,” Demirtaş said.

HDP spokesperson Ebru Günay commented on the issue during a press conference on June 1 and said that Demirtaş's candidacy was not taken into account "due to his legal situation." 

When asked how he felt when ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters chanted slogans of “death penalty Selo” during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory speech on May 28, Demirtaş said: “Frankly speaking, we have laughed at that picture with my cell friend (politician) Selçuk Mızraklı and felt sorry for that herd. There is nothing to do other than feeling sorry for a destitute (herd) that gives that the image of Medieval Age with their leader in the Palace’s garden.”

Demirtaş said that the rulership will further increase its oppression of Kurdish politics and continue with physical violence and “cultural massacre.” “We will see a Turkey that will get more authoritarian, poorer, more polarized and be more independent on abroad.”

He said that his criticism and suggestions for the HDP have a purpose of “being constructive and providing contribution.” He said that although he will always be an HDP member, he is at the moment quitting active politics.

Asked if he is resigning from the HDP, Demirtaş said: “I am neither resigning from the HDP nor any of my duties. I indicate that I will not be involved in up-to-date, current politics and I am quitting active politics within this framework.”

Demirtaş was also asked to ponder on how the ruling AKP still managed to garner 35 percent of the votes despite so many problematic issues in Turkey. He said that the AKP ran the election process on an “unequal, unjust and illegal ground” from the beginning and “used the state’s all opportunities for lies, slanders, defamation, obstruction.” “And despite knowing this truth, the opposition acted as if it is facing a normal rulership and made big mistakes by legitimizing the regime.”

He said that although society was in favor of a change, this desire could not be transformed into a social movement. “It (desire for change) was crammed into political parties and a result wanted to be received from here.”

Asked what the HDP’s road path should be from now on, Demirtaş said that the party should hold a congress and make some changes in the management. “As far as I see, our people as well as the co-chairs are awaiting this maturity and responsibility from the party management. What we need to protect right now is our people’s organized struggle and our party.”

Demirtaş said that Erdoğan’s use of the nickname “Selo” for him was a method “to target the resisting Kurdish people and Kurdish animosity.” “Without explicitly saying ‘Kurdish,’ he is saying ‘Selo.’ He has run a smear campaign against Kurds through my name during the last elections,” he said.