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Mardin, June 24, 2018.

Hi every­one !

I pre­ferred not to say it out loud — and, besides, we had instruc­tions to remain quiet.

I joined a del­e­ga­tion from the France-Kur­dis­tan Sol­i­dar­i­ty Asso­ci­a­tion which car­ried out a mis­sion of obser­va­tion of the pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions in Turkey on June 24. Same as in 2015, the group chose Mardin as its base, a very beau­ti­ful town in Turk­ish Kur­dis­tan, not far from the Syr­i­an bor­der. Half of the group (in which I was) went today to Nusay­bin, the oth­er half to Kizil­te­pe, two towns locat­ed on the bor­der, which were admin­is­tered by the Peo­ple’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) and which are now, like dozens of oth­ers, under the con­trol of the State after the dis­missal and arrest of their may­ors and co-mayors.

It was a very short stay, only three days, but it allowed the eight peo­ple of the del­e­ga­tion to make impor­tant and warm meet­ings with local lead­ers or HDP activists. The group’s dis­cre­tion made it pos­si­ble to avoid incon­ve­niences (deten­tion, arrest, con­fis­ca­tion of pass­ports, expul­sions), which oth­er del­e­ga­tions suffered.

We just spent an evening watch­ing the results of the votes. Both dis­ap­point­ing and encour­ag­ing results for democ­ra­cy in Turkey.

Dis­ap­point­ing : Erdo­gan is re-elect­ed, there will be no sec­ond round, and there­fore the con­sti­tu­tion­al reform adopt­ed by ref­er­en­dum in April 2017 will be imple­ment­ed, which will con­sid­er­ably extend the pres­i­den­tial pow­ers. This re-elec­tion will give legit­i­ma­cy to a regime that is tend­ing towards dic­ta­tor­ship. I invite you to take a look at the arti­cle in which I analysed the wor­ry­ing fea­tures of this ref­er­en­dum, which will be applied in the com­ing days. It is a vic­to­ry for Erdo­gan, who allowed him­self the lux­u­ry of mak­ing a state­ment on tele­vi­sion although the count­ing was not fin­ished. At this very moment, his sup­port­ers are march­ing in the streets of Mardin, tri­umphant­ly, as prob­a­bly through­out all Turkey.

Nev­er­the­less, we have strong rea­sons to hope and be con­fi­dent in Turkey’s demo­c­ra­t­ic forces. Muhar­rem Ince, can­di­date of the old Kemal­ist par­ty CHP, got more than 30% of the votes. This man was still a stranger a few months ago, and his rel­a­tive suc­cess illus­trates a deep desire for change in the pop­u­la­tion. But the CHP is an old par­ty that has always been very con­ser­v­a­tive on sen­si­tive issues.

But above all, Sela­hat­tin Demir­tas, leader of the HDP, impris­oned since Novem­ber 2016, obtained more than 8% of the votes, while his par­ty was unable to cam­paign, and even though he was exclud­ed from the media. 8% of the votes, which makes him the third can­di­date, despite him being iso­lat­ed in a cell in the prison of Edirne, at the Bul­gar­i­an bor­der, 1700 km from Kur­dis­tan, with the pos­si­bil­i­ty to address the elec­torate only by a few phone calls… Under such con­di­tions, this result is an achievement.

And then, the HDP par­ty man­aged to get through the “thresh­old” of the 10% of votes required — at the nation­al lev­el — to obtain par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It scored over 11%, giv­ing it 66 seats in par­lia­ment, mak­ing it the third largest polit­i­cal force in the country.

Of course, this is a frag­ile result if we remem­ber 2015. On the 7th of June 2015, the HDP had been so suc­cess­ful (80 deputies) that the gov­ern­ment chose to delay form­ing a gov­ern­ment, exceed­ing the legal dead­line, which allowed Erdo­gan to can­cel the elec­tion, in all legal terms, and to call new elec­tions in Novem­ber, and the cam­paign then took place in dis­as­trous con­di­tions — as for the one we have just experienced.

These results, obtained in spite of enor­mous dif­fi­cul­ties (attacks against the can­di­dates and the party’s offices and, for this last cam­paign, elec­tions held under the con­di­tions of the state of emer­gency), prove that the base which sup­ports the HDP is sol­id, that the desire for democ­ra­cy is strong, that the democ­rats of Turkey are not impressed by vio­lence and threats.

In the com­ing days, after my return to France, I will describe these few dense days spent in Mardin, Nusay­bin and Istanbul.

See you soon !

Translated by Lougar Raynmarth
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