The Battle for Turkey’s Presidency

Frontline Club event on 25 July 2014

It is just over a year since protests to save Istanbul’s Gezi Park escalated after being met by an uncompromising stance from the government and a police crackdown. What started as an environmental movement became a wider protest against the perceived increased authoritarianism of the country’s leader.

As the protests continue and with the country due to vote in the first round of the presidential elections in early August, we will be bringing together a panel to gauge the political climate. With accusations of cronyism and mass corruption inside the government, we will explore what the protestors are fighting for and how much support they have across the country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced large-scale criticism following his reaction to the industrial disaster that killed over 300 miners. We will be asking how much support he still maintains in the country and if he is to contest and win the election what does this mean for Turkey?

Chaired by Murat Nisancioglu, the head of Turkish Service at BBC Global News.

Continue reading “The Battle for Turkey’s Presidency”

Demirtas addresses BDP group meeting about peace talks

Co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtas addressed the BDP group meeting on Tuesday with an in-depth discussion on the renewed negotiations between the Turkish state and the PKK. Below is a translated version of the full speech:

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) addresses his party’s parliamentary group meeting on “the Imrali processs” on 8 January 2013

Dear friends,

Today, in our group meeting we would like to share our thoughts, suggestions and approaches to the process which has been under intense discussion for about a week now and has been dubbed ‘the Imrali process’ (i.e. negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan in the name of the Kurdish question, translator’s note) Of course, we are talking about 30 ongoing years of blood and tears with a history of almost 100 years of deep-rooted historical, social, political, cultural and economic problems. The Imrali process is not a topic that popped up today and will be gone tomorrow. At the present stage, everyone should evaluate and debate with a cool head. We should foster hope where it exists, we should criticise the weak points where they exist, everyone should sincerely debate how to bring about an honorable peace with dialogue and negotiation as well as a solution that is bloodless, weaponless and nonviolent. This is our basic intention and approach.Every suggestion and criticism that we will share with you today is rooted in this intention and approach.With us today are the constituents of the HDK (English: Peoples Democratic Congress) and the Left Green Party.

Continue reading “Demirtas addresses BDP group meeting about peace talks”

Clashes in Amed, 14 July

Eleven police forces equipped with gas grenades, water cannons, truncheons and tanks descended onto Amed last Saturday and clashed with Kurdish protesters calling for the release of Abdullah Ocalan.

As Firat News reports:

Police severely attacked the people joining the “Freedom for Öcalan” rally in Diyarbakır on 14 July.

TOMA type vehicles, gas bombs and pressure water was used against the mass in the meeting area. Many people, including dozens of children, three Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies and Mayor Osman Baydemir were reported injured in attacks.

Thousands of people who had gathered at five separate points broke the police barricade around the meeting area where clashes were reported to last for long hours. Continue reading “Clashes in Amed, 14 July”

“The AKP’s ‘New Kurdish Strategy’ Is Nothing of the Sort”

An Interview with Selahattin Demirtas

by Jake Hess | published May 2, 2012

Originally published in Middle East Review Online

Selahattin Demirtaş is co-president of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party of Turkey (BDP), the fourth largest political party in the country. The BDP is not formally tied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since 1984, but it shares the PKK’s core political demands and the two groups likely have many supporters in common. As such, the BDP is a pivotal player in the search for peace. Hopes for a political solution to the decades-old confrontation between the Kurds and the government of Turkey were raised in 2009, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched an initiative known as the “Kurdish” or “democratic opening,” only for the effort to collapse that winter. Talk of democratic reforms and a new approach to the Kurdish issue has resurfaced since the AKP won a third term in the 2011 parliamentary elections, but prospects remain grim as PKK-army clashes and political repression of the Kurdish movement continue. A lawyer by trade, Demirtaş represents the Hakkari province in the Turkish parliament and is a past vice president of the Human Rights Association of Turkey. Jake Hess interviewed him in Washington during a BDP parliamentary delegation visit in April and translated the conversation from Turkish. Continue reading ““The AKP’s ‘New Kurdish Strategy’ Is Nothing of the Sort””

Brookings Institution to host Demirtas tonight

American-based think tank The Brookings Institution is holding an event this afternoon in Washington DC entitled ‘A Conversation with Turkey’s Kurdish Leadership’. BDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas will be speaking, along with Ahmed Turk of the DTK:

Event Summary

Turkey’s approach to lingering problems in dealing with the Kurdish minority at home and in the region is once again at a critical juncture. From the prospects for a new constitution to Ankara’s Syria dilemma, virtually all the pressing issues facing Turkey have a Kurdish dimension. Most recently, Prime Minister Erdogan declared that his government is ready to engage in a political dialogue with the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the Turkish Parliament. Given past failures at dialogue and at finding a mutually-acceptable, peaceful, and democratic solution to the problem, will this time prove different? What do the Kurds of Turkey and those of neighboring nations want and is the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ready to meet Kurdish demands?

We will bring you further information on the outcome of the event when we receive it. Until then, for further information on the event, follow this link.

Demirtas and Kisanak write to members of the EP

As members of the European Parliament gather today to debate the 2011 Progress Report on Turkey and EU Enlargement, we reproduce below a letter written by BDP Co-Chairs Selahattin Demitas and Gultan Kışanak to members of the EP:

28 March 2012


Honorable members of the parliament,

First of all, we would like to let you know that, we have written this letter for the purpose of to contribute to the debates regarding Turkey in European Parliament. As you know, Turkey has sophisticated and traumatic issues such as Kurdish Issue, debates on the constitution, from centralization to decentralization and of course the fundamental rights. It is very clear that all the concerned issues directly related each other. Up until today, collective and political problems which based on relations with the power and claimant people are evaluated at the heart of security oriented mentality by the governments in Turkey. We are sorry to say that, Turkey’s governments are continuing to pressures against the civil society including press, trade unions and opposite political parties and their supporters with the international actors’ indirect contribution. It is clear that, AKP Government’s unilateral and patronizing approach prevents dialogue and the negotiation process which the key method for the solution. Continue reading “Demirtas and Kisanak write to members of the EP”