Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Rt Hon Lisa Nandy MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
17 April 2021
OPEN LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE HDP (PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY)
Dear Foreign Secretary
On 6 April 2021 senior representatives of the European Council met with Tukey’s President Erdogan in Ankara. Following the meeting, the European Council expressed its satisfaction as it seeks to reset relations with Turkey after concerns had arisen over relations in the Eastern Mediterranean, and with Greece and Cyprus. The Council agreed to continue making a financial contribution to Turkey as it hosts 4 million Syrian refugees. There was discussion of the Turkish government’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention which promotes women’s rights. However, the President of the European Council stated, “The rule of law and respect of fundamental rights are core values of the EU. We shared with President Erdogan our deep worries on the latest developments in Turkey in this respect, in particular on freedom of speech, and the targeting of political parties and media.”
President Erdogan and the Turkish government are set to ban Turkey’s third largest political party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP); the case for the party’s proscription is now with Turkey’s courts. These are courts that have been purged of officials who are not pro-Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). HDP MPs have been stripped of parliamentary immunity, arrested, and gaoled under laws that effectively brand criticism of government policy as terrorism. Scores of elected HDP mayors have been removed and imprisoned to be replaced with government appointees.
While the inspiration for the HDP may have been from among Turkey’s Kurdish community it represents a wide range of the electorate. That the HDP has repeatedly won more than 10% of the vote in general elections and is therefore entitled to representation in the National Assembly is intolerable for the President Erdogan and the AKP. Over 6,000 HDP members have been gaoled. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the former HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, imprisoned since November 2016, be released. The Turkish state defies this ruling. The attack on the rights of the Kurds and in particular their right to democratic representation threatens all remaining democratic rights in Turkey. More journalists have been arrested and imprisoned in Turkey than in any other country. Lawyers, academics, charity workers, anybody at all who criticises the President and the government, is threatened with being accused of subversion and terrorism.
Geo-strategic interests and attempts to keep Turkey to its NATO commitments must not override defence of fundamental values and rights. Erdogan depends on the complicity of Britain, the EU and the USA to pursue the oppression of the Kurds and all his opponents. He buys this compliance with promises and threats. Grave violations of human rights take place with only timid rebukes offered by these international powers. The British government must take up the right of the HDP to exist as a legal political party as a matter of urgency with the representatives of the Turkish state.
Peace in Kurdistan on behalf of Patrons:
John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, John McDonnell MP; Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist, Steve Sweeney, journalist, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy; Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903