Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has vowed to end one-man rule in Turkey.
Demirtaş’s manifesto for the June 24 elections was released at a meeting in Ankara on Monday. In the manifesto Demirtaş said as president he would not have excessive authorities and would realize a plan for an urgent transition to democracy. He promised a country without polarization that should be dominated by love and tolerance, where people will be able to live their ways of life freely.
The manifesto also promised the establishment of a system of government empowered with the participation of all segments of society. “We are the voice of not monism but pluralism. We say we are here against a regime that declares everyone not on its side a criminal and works solely for its own existence. We are at the turning point of ending a 16-year-old destruction at the ballot box! Hand to hand for a new beginning, we will change the monist, repressive, robbing, discriminative and aggressive one-man rule with YOU.”
According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), Demirtaş said “YOU are the producer, and YOU will be the ruler,” in his manifesto, which listed the following promises in order to heal social wounds:
“We will end the state of emergency in the quickest time possible.
“We will compensate for the damage caused by the state of emergency and statutory decrees and ensure the reinstatement of those unlawfully dismissed.
“We will put an end to the atrocities suffered in prisons and put an end to the unjust treatment they are subjected to and ensure the immediate release of all sick prisoners.
“We will end the trustee system based on usurping the people’s will and right to vote, and ensure that dismissed mayors are returned to their jobs.
“By guaranteeing democracy, we will relieve the economy. From the perspective of an economy based on meeting social needs, we will extend the producers’ supervision of economic relations.
“The palace allocated to one man will be emptied out.
“We will build our foreign policy on the perspective of resolving the current problems through dialogue and peaceful ways and methods.
“We will re-arrange the structure of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, remove the minister of justice from the council, end the political pressure on judges and prosecutors and make the council autonomous. The judiciary will be freed from the orders of politics.
“We will abolish Higher Education Board [YÖK] and secure the academic, scientific and administrative autonomy of universities.
“We will work for the abolishment of coup product structures and arrangements such as the National Security Council and Counterterrorism Law.
“We will free the legislature and judiciary of the pressure of execution.
“We will accomplish the program of an urgent transition to democracy.
“The inclusive parliamentary system we will form will be the assurance of not one single person but OURS. We will return to Parliament authorities such as the right to legislate, conduct oversight and determine the budget that have been granted to the President’s Office through the Urgent Transition to Democracy Program. We will build a strong and pluralist parliamentary system by overcoming the deadlocks created by the one-party majority.
“We will give priority to the solution of all social issues.
“We will build an administrative system based on the equal participation of women.
“We will legalize the legitimatize the co-chairmanship system that will secure the equal representation of women at all levels of political parties.
“We will protect the rights of children who make up one-third of Turkey’s population. We will ensure a happy, honorable and peaceful life for every single child.
“We will solve the Kurdish question with the perspective that a permanent peace is the only way to ensure welfare and tranquility for the people of Turkey. We will end violence and conflict with an honorable peace.
“We will end the pressure on all oppressed and marginalized identities, beliefs and cultural groups as well as on gender identity.
“We will not let the burden of economic crisis be laid on the people.
“We will never make concessions on the principles of a free, scientific, mother-tongue, secular and liberal education.
“We will remove all the obstacles to the people’s right to information, freedom of thought, expression, press, demonstration and organisation.
“We will bring an end to every and any construction that causes ecological destruction and threatens nature and the society. We will protect forests, coastlines, pasture land, agricultural fields, protected areas and cultural and historical heritage.
“I will be the president to end the superpresidential regime. Once the process is over, my authorities will also be restricted. The President’s Office will turn into a representative authority for social reconciliation.
“We are the people. With our identities, beliefs, languages and cultures, WE are this country.
“We are those who believe in the future of this country and stand against the waste of resources, hopes, efforts and diversities to the passions of one-man rule.”
Speaking at the press conference in Ankara to present the HDP election manifestos, the co-chair of the party, Sezai Temelli, underlined the main points of the party’s commitments to voters, 40 days before election day.
Temelli said: “Today is ‘the right time to get a fresh start.’ We come to open all the locks that have been put on democracy, the economy, the joy of living, emotion, the desire of people to live together without fighting, without conflict.”
Temelli reiterated that the HDP campaign and he also pledged “to put an end to the one-man regime, social polarisation and discourse of hostility.” Temelli reminded that “millions of young people in this country have not seen any other force in power than the AKP government. Young people, give yourselves a chance, not us. We will change with you! Now is the time. … More than 40 million women live in this country. More than 40 million women are almost ignored! Women, we call on you.”
Then Temelli called on “Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Alevis, Yazidis, Assyrians, Roma, laborers, women, youths, children … You are not alone, the HDP is here. Your voice has been silenced by the one-man regime. We do not have armchairs in our winter palaces to lose, we don’t fear losing our tax havens. The only thing we fear is losing is the trust of our people, who have never left us half way.”
Temelli underlined that “freedom is not a gift, but a choice. You cannot buy freedom, but you can free yourself.”
In November 2016, Demirtaş together with 12 HDP deputies were arrested on terror-related charges. Demirtaş remains in pretrial detention. The deputies face prosecution under antiterrorism legislation after their parliamentary immunity was lifted.
The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament. The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors.
Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast. There are currently nine HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.
Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.
More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. Over 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the Turkish government and the PKK resumed the armed struggle.