29 October 2015

Activists and academics from the UK will travel to Turkey today to observe the coming elections, set to take place this Sunday following months of shocking state violence across the mainly Kurdish southeast and political intimidation and harassment across the country.

HDP celebrates historic result
HDP celebrates historic result. Photo courtesy Sean Hawkey

The delegation was independently organised in response to a call from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which invited witnesses from across Europe to observe the election day out of concern for fair voting.

The election will be a turning point for Turkey and for the Kurdish people. Since the HDP made dramatic gains in the general election in June, passing the 10% threshold and denying the AKP a majority for the first time in 13 years, the country has been rocked by increasing violence, including a recent attack of a pro-peace rally in ANkara which killed over 100 people. In addition, a wide-scale coordinated attack against the political opposition has taken place, with raids on newspapers and broadcasting stations, arrests of HDP officials and attacks on predominantly Kurdish cities and neighbourhoods in the south, which has been condemned as ‘collective punishment’ and has led to the deaths of over 200 people.[1]

The UK delegation will travel to two cities, both in the Kurdish southeast – Diyarbakir and Siirt – over the course of the weekend. The delegation includes Lord Hylton, member of the House of Lords; Melanie Gingell, barrister; Margaret Owen, human rights lawyer; John Hunt, journalist; and Kawa Besarani, human rights advocate and political analyst among others. Melanie Gingell and John Hunt both observed the previous election in June. Also taking part is well-known academic David Graeber and Nottingham University researcher Rebecca Coles.[2]

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) announced a ceasefire a few weeks ago to enable the elections to go ahead in a peaceful environment, a move that has not been reciprocated by the Turkish government, which has instead continued its aerial bombardment of PKK sites in northern Iraq. The Turkish military has also been openly targeting Kurdish troops in the Tel Abyad regions of Syria this week, which was recently liberated from Islamic State.[3]




[1]. See report, Women’s delegation condemns the arbitrary killing of 21 civilians in Cizre.

[2]. The delegates include: Lord Hylton, House of Lords; Melanie Gingell, barrister; Margaret Owen, human rights lawyer; John Hunt, journalist; Kawa Besarani, human rights advocate and political analyst; Serpil Ersanli solicitor; Aysegul Erdogan, Islington Councillor; David Graeber, professor in Anthropology; Rebecca Coles, researcher Nottingham University and activist; Elif Sarican, postgraduate student.

[3]. More details on the unprecedented wave of attacks against Kurds in recent months, can be found in this report


Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 7890
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