Temelli: There is hope that a common struggle will help get rid of this government

ANF interviewed HDP Van MP Temelli about the upcoming elections and the latest developments in the country.

There was a candidate crisis within the Nation Alliance, which also affected the political atmosphere in Turkey. How does your party treat this crisis?

We understand that the Nation Alliance was always prone to a crisis. They did not address the candidate issue despite reaching agreement on everything else in their months-long talks. It has long been known that the alliance had two tendencies to pick up a presidential candidate. On the one hand, there was the main opposition leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and on the other hand, IYI party leader, Meral Akşener, was talking about a “candidate who could win”. Akşener was referring to CHP’s popular mayors, Ekrem İmamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş. Both mayors, however, were promoting their leader. I think that reducing this crisis to a candidate debate does not explain the issue well enough.

How so?

If there was a crisis that revolved only around the candidate issue, a solution similar to the one that emerged in the last 72 hours could have been found much earlier. As far as we can see, there were certain developments that have not yet been revealed to the public. I would like to emphasize that the public has the right to know what happened because people will elect a new president. People will vote to shape Turkey’s future. Therefore, what happened should be explained to the public. Of course, HDP voters need an explanation, too. We think that Akşener’s approach to our party remained decisive during the candidate crisis.

Turkey has lost 20 years because of the government. The country has moved away from many things with regard to democracy. Citizens have experienced very serious grievances for the past 20 years. The Kurdish people have also been massively affected by war, violence, crackdown and poverty. The HDP has been constantly accused, many of our colleagues, including former co-chairs, are in prison. Many of our friends have been forced to live in exile.

We have seen how a government that is reluctant to resolve the Kurdish question has created multiple problems in the country and how the recent earthquake has escalated the situation. It would have been different if the resources had been allocated not for war, but for peace and for cities. If steps had been taken together with the Kurdish people for a common homeland and a democratic republic, if the peace process had not been suspended and Mr. Öcalan had not been subjected to absolute isolation, we would perhaps be living in a completely different country today. Perhaps these discussions would never have emerged. Therefore, the public needs an explanation.

It is known that the IYI Party has long been ignoring the HDP. Do you expect this policy to continue?

There is still uncertainty, but when the ‘Table of Six’ (Nation Alliance) was disbanded on the evening of March 2, the public reaction and backlash were not directed against the HDP. On the contrary, public opinion emerged that this issue could be resolved with the HDP, and therefore, I think that Akşener added new topics, such as the resolution of the Kurdish question and resumption of negotiations with the HDP, to her agenda when she came back to the table. Because the public backlash was not directed against the HDP, but against the IYI Party and its pro-government position over certain issues. For this reason, I do not think that the opposition alliance can turn a blind eye to the HDP’s struggle for democratization and its stance on democracy from now on. It is a fact that since the day it was founded, the IYI Party has taken a nationalist stance against the Kurdish people and the HDP, and even a racist rhetoric reminiscent of the ultra-nationalist government ally MHP. I think that the opposition parties are going to address this attitude.

HDP co-chairs stated that the candidate issue would be reconsidered. They said they expected a visit to the party headquarters by Kılıçdaroğlu. So, how will the HDP take a stand on the candidate issue?

In 2018, our presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, could not pursue his campaign because he was in prison. He reached all candidates except Erdoğan, only through letters and social media. Kılıçdaroğlu is very likely to visit our party. If we happen to nominate a candidate, he/she will definitely visit the opposition candidates. This is quite normal. After all, the main issue for all of us today is to get rid of the current one-man regime and to democratize Turkey. We see that there is a climate of reconciliation regarding democratization in Turkey. We believe that the only way to do it is through negotiations. Therefore, these talks could also address certain issues.

What are these issues?

These issues concern the rule of law, putting an end to all this injustice and achieving democratization in Turkey. We do not have any other expectations or prospects. We have been revealing our position very clearly for a long time. In fact, our strategy document has already been declared to the public a year and a half ago. It was our party which first revealed its position on the issue.

We were going to announce our presidential candidate before the earthquake. Unfortunately, devastating earthquakes occurred, and we suffered a lot. Our priority was, of course, to deal with the disaster. In the earthquake-hit cities where there was no state, only solidarity could help survivors. This was our priority, and we have accomplished it. While we were going through this whole process, the earthquakes affected politics in the country. It will continue to affect us in the future. In fact, this will be the most urgent agenda of the new government. We said that we would re-evaluate the candidate issue for the sake of the common interest of the peoples of Turkey. Our committees are now working on it. The Labour and Freedom Alliance, of which we are a part, will also address the issue. Depending on the situation, we will either nominate a candidate or support the joint candidate of the democratic forces.

Do you mean Kılıçdaroğlu?

If the candidate of the opposition parties is a joint candidate of the democratic forces, then this will be a determining factor in our evaluations. If not, then we can go on our way with a candidate who can meet the expectations of the democratic forces, the peoples of Turkey and the Kurdish people. We’ve made it very clear from the very beginning. Of course, we congratulate Kılıçdaroğlu and wish him success.

Electoral campaigns have not officially started, but we saw racism and hostility towards the Kurds during the Amedspor – Bursa Spor football match. MHP leader Devlet Bahceli congratulated Bursaspor, praised the racist hooligans and those detained for involvement in the attack have been released. Do you think that the government will continue these attacks as the elections are looming?

We know that this is a century-old state tradition against the Kurds. This century-old state tradition feeds on fascism, state of emergency, martial law and junta. The state continues to defend the status quo that it has created. The state tries to protect the status quo with all its apparatus in a stadium, on a street or in a group talk. The struggle and resistance of an organized society showed that this can no longer be sustained.

There may be similar racist attacks during the election process, but they will all fail. Because it is not bearable anymore. Such a government, system and order cannot be tolerated. There is also tremendous hope that people will get rid of this mentality through a common struggle. Of course, our job is not easy. As long as this order is maintained, oppression, poverty, hunger, war and death will prevail in the country.

The democracy forces should invent the necessary response during this election process. It should be noted that the negotiations, solidarity and struggle that will emerge during the election process should contribute to the construction of another Turkey. If it is restricted to the election campaign, things will not change. This may cause major problems for both Turkey and the Middle East.”

Source: ANF english