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Ever since the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s electoral success in June 2015 the regime has attempted with every means to destroy popular support for the Party, as well as the Party itself.
This Kurdish movement chose a political offer for all the peoples of Turkey. And it is on this basis that the different movements stemming from anti-regime struggles of the preceding years joined up (See complete article The HDP “Pro-Kurdish Party” an unbearable media jingle — in French).
The unilateral break in negotiations with the Kurdish movement (known as the “resolution process”) intervened in 2015. It marked the brutal end to a period of overtures where a few fundamental rights could be exercised. It announced a period of exactions, discriminations and repressions.
The conflict opened in Kurdistan, in eastern Turkey when the regime massed troops and militias against towns and districts that had declared their “autonomy”, applying de facto the demands expressed during the discussions. These declarations served as the reason for declaring a state of siege and curfews, bombings and the destruction of entire neighborhoods that resisted. These resistance struggles of 2015 are also known as the “war of trenches” based ib the example of the martyred towns and neighborhoods destroyed by the Turkish State. These bloody and murderous episodes were added on as a supplementary layer to the long history of oppression of the Kurdish people, following on the black decades of 1980 and 1990. This time, the murderous element was not Kemalist militarism but the Erdoğan regime, aided by officers of the Gülen brotherhood, who were then accomplices of the crimes against the Kurdish populations.
For further reading on this topic, you may consult Kedistan’s archived materials of the second half of the year 2015.
To this police and military offensive were added a will to politically destroy the HDP which was resisting as best it could.
In March 2016, the lifting of parliamentary immunity was requested for certain elected members of the HDP Party, among them Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ who were then its Co-Presidents. On November 4 2016, the elected members were arrested, then incarcerated. They are still in prison.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the “failed coup d’état” of July 2016. But Erdoğan fully exploited the bonus it provided. And proceeded to charge the leaders with accusations of “terrorism”, “separatism”, “gulenism” , all terms that became of common usage in the regime’s tribunals of injustice, just as they still are nowadays.
In 2016, numerous HDP offices were attacked by ultranationalists. These attacks are still occurring sporadically.
In this year of 2020, after the HDP has managed to maintain its popular support in the elections of the previous five years, despite the “bloodletting” imposed on it, the regime has further accentuated these political and repressive offensives.
A number of members and leaders of the HDP are in prison or in a constant back and forth in and out of it. To this day, 73 HDP mayorlties have found themselves placed under governmental administrators following the withdrawal of the Co-Mayors from their duties, and their arrest.
No later than yesterday, the Minister of the Turkish Interior, Süleyman Soylu, in a marathon speech to the National Assembly spoke of “developments” in different Kurdish towns, congratulating himself for action “oh! Oh so well done’ like a school boy, “Oh! Ooooh! The money isn’t going to the PKK, it is going to the Nation, Oh, oh! We have taken back 73 city halls and placed administrators in them. Take down notes!” he cried with unrestrained rage, “694 years of prison are demanded against these mayors!” … Applause followed…
This 40 minute long speech before the Turkish Assembly would deserve an article and a translation all its own. Mixed together, we find in it every possible combination attributing “terrorism” to the HDP, putting it on an equal footing with the Italian Mafia, the Basque independentists and the Golden Dawn in Greece… Find the mistake. The common feature HDP+PKK, that great classic, is also trotted out, charging the HDP of “crimes”, with a number of photographs, and treating young victims of the repression of “child terrorists”. Selahattin Demirtaş whose liberation is demanded by the European Tribunal of Human Right is also labelled as a terrorist leader. The speech also served to justify all the upcoming repression, combining “peace and unity of the Nation” and “a unwavering struggle against the terrorists’.
Already, in June 2020, Kedistan spoke in a column of a kind of media embargo, of the efforts by the ones and the others to render this progressist and democratic party invisible and inaudible, and of sulfurous whiffs of a desire for its annihilation…
Last October 20, with an opinion column written in prison, Selahattin Demirtaş in person denounced “a plot against the HDP on the back of Kobanê”.
Nothing surprising in this for a State that is no longer under the rule of Law. You already know what we think of States themselves, but when the one in Turkey becomes a Cartel regime, no trace of justice can subsist.
For the past few days, there is again a question of lifting the immunity of the few remaining HDP deputies who are still free… The 29 new requests for the lifting of Parliamentary immunity submitted recently to the Turkish National Assembly’s bureau concern opposition deputies, essentially those elected for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Indeed, 23 of the requests would suppress parliamentary immunity for 17 deputies of this party, including its Copresident Mithat Sancar.
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We have chosen here to translate and to present a summary of a report from 2015. This report anticipates the ongoing repression, and states the reasons for it, on top of the anti-Kurdish nationalist racism underlying the regime and the policy of its coalitions of interests.
This “Kurdish Report” was established in September 2015 by the SETA Foundation, a think tank closely linked to the AKP.
Before looking at it, a bit of information:
What is SETA?
The SETA Foundation, in Turkish, “Siyaset, Ekonomi ve Toplum Araştırmaları Vakfı” and in English the “Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research” is a political “think tank” based in Ankara. With one click one learns on Wikipedia that the group was created in 2006 in order to produce “knowledge and up-to-date and precise analyses in the areas of politics, the economy and society” and “to inform deciders and the general public on the evolution of political, economic, social and cultural conditions”. Burhanettin Duran has served as its general coordinator since 2014. On its “about” page which has disappeared from their website (but you can find an archived copy here), the group describes itself as “independent, non-profit and non-partisan” but it is described by Deutsche Welle as being controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The foundation has offices in Istanbul, Washington D.C. and Cairo, and produces a university newspaper about Turkey: Insight Turkey.
Some of SETA’s current and former members are also high-ranking civil servants of the Erdoğan presidential system, columnists for pro-AKP media. İbrahim Kalın, SETA’s founding director, is now Erdoğan’s main advisor and spokesman since 2014. He was a columnist for Sabah, the main pro-AKP newspaper. Another name that might sound familiar is that of Fahrettin Altun. He was mentioned in one of the recent articles in Kedistan, one that relayed incredible revelations, straight out of the email of Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and Finance Minister — recently ex in the latter case… Fahrettin Altun is SETA’s former general coordinator for Istanbul and deputy general coordinator for SETA, and now chief of presidential communications. He was also a columnist at Sabah. Burhanettin Duran, SETA’s general coordinator is also a member of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Council and a columnist for Sabah. Muhammet Mücahit Küçükyılmaz, former communication coordinator for SETA is now principal advisor to Recept Tayyip Erdoğan and…columnist for Sabah. Hatice Karahan, who does economic research for SETA is now economic advisor to the Reis and a chronicler for the rag at the regime’s service, Yeni Şafak.
In early July 2019, SETA published a 202 page report titled “Extensions of International Media in Turkey” which caused a huge controversy in Turkey and abroad. The report provided individual names and professional backgrounds of Turkish journalists working in the Turkish branches of institutions such as Euronews, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Sputnik, CRI and The Independent… In this report, SETA also provided samples of shares by journalists on their personal accounts on social networks, displaying them and accusing these members of the press of anti-governmental bias. Unions and journalist associations condemned the report.
If you now have a general idea of SETA, let’s go back further in time. Because our topic is the “Kurdish Report” from 2015…
What does the “Kurdish Report” say?
This 64 page report observes and advises: “There must be put an end to the resolution process”, “an intervention is necessary on the rise in Kurdish national awareness”, “the President of the Republics’ policies alienate the Kurds”, “the policy barons are present at the heart of the AKP”…Everything is there.
The complete report is found as an attachment to an email received in Berat Albayrak’s email which was pirated and made available to public opinion on Wikileaks. You can also see the document in Turkish in pdf format HERE.
ON THE POSSIBLE DYNAMIC OF THE KURDISH VOTE
AT THE NOVEMBER 1st 2015 ELECTIONS
(Diyarbakır, Urfa, Adıyaman, Antep, Mersin, Muş, Bitlis, Van, Bingöl, Ağrı, Erzurum, İstanbul, Ankara, Kocaeli, Bursa, İzmir) September 7–15 2015
■ During the June 2015 elections, the fall in Kurdish votes and those of the young received by the AKP Party reached noticeable levels. (Page 2)
■ It was noticed that, with the rise in Kurdish identity, the AKP’s service policy and its speech on unity based on religion have lost their influence in the region. (Page 6)
■ It was observed that local representatives of the AKP give an image of “a Party for the rich, for the elite”. (Page 6)
■ The people with whom interviews were conducted, stated the domination of a group defined as “political barons” in the AKP’s local structures. According to these statements, the people influential in the towns’ organization attempt to control the town’s political and economic policies and obtain political advantages from them. (Page 7)
■ The possibility of keeping the Kurds by the side of the AKP or of the government with the “way of doing politics” adopted by the President of the Republic has become difficult, this is expressed unanimously. (Page 8)
■ As the Kurds have a traditional social structure and values, it would be necessary to constitute a delegation within the AKP, directly linked to the President of the Republic and, through its intervention to establish a close contact with the sheikhs, opinion leaders influential on the electors, to build a constant dialogue and conduct consultations. (Page 19)
■ The young people think that only the HDP can offer more, and even more importantly that it can offer the most. Among young Kurds, self-confidence has plateaued. (Page 25)
■ During the resolution period, the HDP and the PKK were masters of the field and developed the urban structures very well. A hierarchical structure was set up from corporative organizations to college or university ones, this allows a message sent from above to reach HDP sympathizers within an hour. (Page 25)
■ Young people gather on social networks around accounts belonging to the HDP, thus obtaining this information very quickly. In the region, there is no counter-organization through social media that can respond to this. (Page 25)
■ Youths that are not HDP sympathizers are lost. They are aware of the fact that there is something in the discourses of HDP members that disturbs them emotionally, but they do not have the tools to give meaning to this or the courage to express it. (Page 26)
■ When one digs deeper, it becomes obvious that the resolution process is the true reason for the loss of AKP votes in the region. All the allegations lead to the fact that the terrain is lost. The loss of terrain, in security as well as discourse and politics appears as the source for the loss of votes for the AKP and the success obtained by the HDP. (Page 26)
■ A feeling of freedom, born from the structuring intensified by the HDP and its expertise in mastering the region connects with the notion of a Historical flow, and adds efficiency to the electorate’s orientation toward the HDP. (Page 26)
■ The town of Urfa is very well structured. The HDP has spread very well the opinion it will succeed and this new situation is taken into consideration by the other (local) actors. (Page 27)
■ It is necessary to spread the idea that the region will not be better off without the AKP. In order to do this, there is the need to gain the upper hand in the discourse, in policy and in security. The advice is that, if the Kurdish electorate does not question what the HDP is, the AKP cannot obtain decisive conquests. (Page 27)
■ The PKK-HDP have invested a serious force through the city halls they won at the last elections. It is noticeable that even Kurds who are traditionalists from a socio-cultural point of view, and who have a religious identity, lean toward the HDP. (Page 35)
■ In observing this shift of vote from the AKP toward the HDP, in comparing the proportions and the valid bulletins, one sees clearly that it does not involve a one-time shift but rather a regular and stable one. (Page 53)
■ As for the actors on which the AKP attempts to rise in the region, they are as a majority actors holding economic shares in the State, who have business relations or who are identified through the State and who, consequently, need the State’s support. Moreover, there is need to question whether these actors have links or not with their society and a culture that renders them suitable for political work aimed at society at large. (Page 54)
■ For the Kurds, Kobanê has almost become a foundation myth with a very high symbolic value. One must not forget that even before the beginning of the clashes, bodies of young Kurds were constantly arriving from Kobanê, and this situation is seen as an element in the anti-Kurdish policy of Turkey. (Page 53)
■ Kobanê which provided a trigger for the Kurds’ historical memory has served a quickening of national awareness, and the Kurds find themselves in a process constitutive of a nation. They compare themselves to other nations. Moreoever, in the West, there are expressions of “national’ reactions toward attacks targetting the Kurds. (Page 54)
■ Rather than responding to each allegation made by the HDP and the organization (understood to mean the PKK) used for propaganda purposes, it would be better to counter-attack, in other words, to go from the defensive position to the attack. ‘Page 55)
■ In the region, local dynamics influence the voting rates. Hits (counter-attacks) can be carried out in particular in towns where the organization (PKK) has no direct influence. However, the essential question is to intervene on the process of national awareness, which is still in a developmental phase. (Page 55)
To end the summary, the final words in the report:
■ At this point, the fact of entering a violent environment with the resumption of clashes will have an influence on the electoral behavior. The middle class and particularly the shop owners are disturbed by the situation. A good strategy based on peace and brotherhood, a temperate discourse toward the Kurds could move the votes toward the AKP of a section of the voters who do not want confrontations, who have economic concerns. These are also the results obtained in the interview; the fact of establishing a balance between the violence and the operations, and scenes such as those witnessed in Cizre, have a negative influence on the shifting of votes.
Such then was the state of the reflection of the regime’s occult political advisor in 2015…
In 2015, the decision to interrupt the “resolution process” which was presented as done for “security reasons” and as a response to “attacks” was indeed already in the works. The will to hold on to power, combined with Erdoğan’s already expansionistic projects, carried the day over the Kurdish question. Exit the attempt at conciliating part of the Kurdish population (on Gülen’s advice). For two reasons: Kobanê and the HDP.
The counter attack against the Kurdish movement is already signaled in this report. It then began at the military level, the report allows to follow the political tracks, without knowing that the “attempted coup d’état” repressed in blood in July 2016 will allow to move on to a policy of open repression against the elected members and the Party, behavior rendered “acceptable” in the mix-up. We must remind the reader of the approving role then played by the CHP, main opposition party; this was fundamental. The anti-Kurd nationalism had come full circle.
So, yes, the “news” these last few days is of the nth wave of counter-attack against the HDP. A wave that will have no more influence on the European Union than those of the drowning migrants.
And since there was need to talk about it, we might as well provide a bit of context, beyond the necessary indignation and solidarity.