Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been behind bars since November 2016 and is running as the HDP’s candidate in Turkey’s presidential election on June 24, criticized Europe for not supporting the Turkish opposition during an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) on Tuesday.
“Europe has abandoned Turkey’s opposition groups and democratic forces. It is ignoring its own principles, which took so long to establish. So we prefer appealing to the people of Europe and its democratic public spheres, instead of calling on certain political leaders,” said Demirtaş.
Stating that his arrest and detention were politically motivated, Demirtaş said: “I will be freed if I go through the courts, provided the judiciary is independent. That is not currently the case. The political class is influencing the judicial branch. But the justification for my arrest is so feeble that not even this political pressure on the judiciary will be enough to keep me locked up. The fight for democracy and freedom waged by our people will be decisive. If that fight results in an independent judiciary, then I’d be able to have a fair trial.”
Pointing out the unfair nature of the political campaign process, Demirtaş stated: “If you watch TRT and other mainstream media, you get the impression that the HDP and I are not even competing in the elections. The media situation is sad. They are giving the impression that a part of Turkish society has no political representation. And are treating other opposition forces like children, which is shameful. I understand that they are under pressure. But there is no justification why, in these critical times, the media are opting to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. And why they are serving the interests of the government.”
Underlining that the HDP is not just a political party, Demirtaş said: “It shows how we can live together and give people hope for the future. We have to improve the way we package our messages and use communication channels more effectively to achieve a more accurate image of ourselves in the public.”
Asking about a new peace process if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is re-elected, Demirtaş stated: “There is not the slightest reason for us to believe that Erdogan knows what democracy, peace and a possible peace process entails. We are all for a peaceful solution to the [Turkish-Kurdish] conflict. But the AKP [Justice and Development Party] is not.”
Reminding that he is in a high security prison, which means he has very limited options, Demirtaş said: “I try to support the election campaign by contributing small messages. I spend my days reading and writing about the elections. Three times a day, my lawyers come to visit and we talk. Seeing the political struggle and the preparations outside really motivates me. Once a week, I get to see my wife for an hour. That also motivates me and lifts my spirits. And I also receive many letters each week. They give me strength as well.”