Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş, a former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has promised to work towards ending the armed conflict in Turkey with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after the current government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is no longer in power.
Arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on terrorism-related charges, Demirtaş has since then remained in prison despite two European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings in 2018 and 2020 that said Demirtaş was imprisoned for “political” reasons and not for “legal” reasons, ordering his “immediate release.”
Halkımıza sözümüz olsun, çatışmadan beslenen Erdoğan rejimi sonrasında PKK'nin Türkiye'de tümüyle silah bırakması için elimizden geleni yapacağız ve mutlaka başaracağız.
TBMM'de usulünce, hukuk çerçevesinde sorunlarımızı çözüp büyük toplumsal barışı kesinlikle sağlayacağız.
— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) April 13, 2023
In a series of tweets Demirtaş accused Erdoğan of feeding on conflict and preventing efforts at peace. He also criticized the government’s crackdown on pro-Kurdish politicians, including imprisoning those who advocated for peace and appointing trustees to their municipalities.
“We could have done this already, but Erdoğan imprisoned those who wanted peace, put them in isolation, tried to close down their parties, appointed trustees to their municipalities, fueled the conflict with provocations and tried to scare the people with the discourse of ‘terror’ to get votes. And they’re still doing this,” Demirtaş tweeted.
Despite these challenges, Demirtaş said peace and tranquillity are possible. However, he warned of persistent provocations and the risk of bloodshed before upcoming elections.
“We will be careful together and we will not be tricked. Please remember, we want peace and democracy. We want to live together equally and fraternally,” he said.
Demirtaş also said the Green Left Party (YSP) would work towards achieving peace as its primary goal.
The YSP is the party under whose banner the HDP decided to run in the parliamentary elections slated for May 14 in a bid to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.
The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.
“Trust us, not the liars and frauds who provoke people for votes. We will win together, and we will surely win,” he said.
Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016 on terrorism-related charges, which he denies. His imprisonment has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and Western governments, who see it as politically motivated.