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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Green Left Party renames itself, elects new co-chairs

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Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP) renamed itself the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) during a party congress in Ankara on Sunday where it also elected new co-chairs, the Bianet news website reported.

The party’s members elected Tülay Hatimoğulları Oruç and Tuncer Bakırhan, both lawmakers elected to parliament under the YSP banner in the May election, as its new co-chairs during the party’s 4th Ordinary Congress.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ran in the May elections on the YSP ticket to circumvent the risks that could have emerged from its possible closure ahead of the elections.

The HDP faces a closure case on terrorism charges that is still pending at the Constitutional Court.

The YSP secured 8.8 percent of the vote in the 2023 parliamentary elections, while the HDP won 11.7 percent in 2018.

Both Oruç and Bakırhan, who delivered speeches at the congress, talked about the importance of the settlement of Turkey’s longstanding Kurdish issue, noting that the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should be included in the settlement process.

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

Talks the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government began to hold with the leadership of the PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue in 2012 ended after two police officers were executed in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.

“The Kurdish issue is not only the problem of the Kurds but Armenians, Turks and Arabs. It is the issue of everyone living in this geography,” said Oruç.

For his part Bakırhan said there is the possibility of a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue and that the person who needs to be taken as an interlocutor is Öcalan, who he said has been subjected to prison restrictions for three years.

Öcalan, who has been jailed in a high-security prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999, has been unable to see his lawyers and family members for several years.

According to Kurdish politicians, the jail restrictions imposed on Öcalan can be explained by the government’s determination not to resolve the Kurdish issue since Öcalan’s situation aggravates the Kurdish issue and dashes hope for its peaceful resolution.

In June HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan decided to step down from their positions, and the HDP announced in August that it would merge with the YSP.

Meanwhile, four people who attended the YSP party congress were detained on Sunday as part of an investigation overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on terrorism charges on the grounds that they unfurled posters of Öcalan during the congress.

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