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Incar­cer­at­ed in the prison of Edirne in the North­west­ern part of Turkey since Novem­ber 2016, the for­mer Co-pres­i­dent of the Peo­ples’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş wrote an arti­cle for the infor­ma­tion web­site T24, pub­lished in Turk­ish on Feb­ru­ary 22nd.

Are you well and good?

I grabbed hold of pen­cil and paper and wrote a few lines for the out­side world. Out­side, many peo­ple write and speak despite every­thing. I know. And of course, each one of them is pre­cious. I would sim­ply like to con­tribute to these dis­cus­sions. I don’t intend to talk in the void to say noth­ing. Who knows, per­haps before this text reach­es you, you will all have left to con­quer space. When we come out of here, I would be a bit sad to find the coun­try emp­ty, but too bad for me, I would be glad for you. But before you go, take some woolen socks with you, space is cool in this sea­son. And also, don’t for­get the bread, because over there, you won’t find any, even sus­pend­ed.1

Are you currently unemployed?

If you don’t mind, I’ll start by a long polit­i­cal analy­sis of the Mid­dle-East, and even of the whole world. The Euro­pean Union pres­sure, the Joe Biden effect, Lybia, Syr­ia, the East­ern Mediter­ranean, Greece, Azer­baïd­jan, ener­gy poli­cies, the S‑400, imper­al­ism and, of course, down with cap­i­tal­ism. True enough, these are not mat­ters to be ignored but I think that, just as I am, you are also tired of these pro­found analy­ses that serve as screens.

By the way, are you hungry?

So I will give you the ben­e­fit of my pro­found views con­cern­ing domes­tic poli­cies: new alliances, res­ig­na­tions, cracks, jumps, new Con­sti­tu­tions, new­er new Con­sti­tu­tions, sparkling Par­ties, rarely used sec­ond-hand Par­ties, more than per­fect Par­ties ready for an alliance nego­ti­at­ed from land­lord to lan­dord, Par­ties with an objec­tive of 50+1%, part­ly nego­ti­at­ed, Par­ties stand­ing a good meter away from “ter­ror­ism”, Par­ties that have put the meter in the wrong place… If you think that is not enough, I will try to help you a bit more: the oh-so demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem of par­lia­men­tarism for the rein­forced solo Pres­i­dent, the sys­tem of par­lia­men­tary prayers for the Pres­i­dent who has lost his strength, the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem devoid of Con­sti­tu­tion of the pres­i­dent, appar­ent­ly par­lia­men­taris­tic semi-pres­i­dent weak­en­ing the trai­tors to the home­land, defy­ing the demo­c­ra­t­ic Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic in person…

And most important, are you well and good?

When say­ing “are you well and good”… Are you a good per­son? Mean­ing, hon­est and vir­tu­ous? If your answer is “yes” keep on read­ing… (Then again, who would answer “I am bad”?)

Notions such as “good” and “evil” are not like unem­ploy­ment or hunger, neat, sol­id notions. But they are not com­plete­ly lim­it­less, total­ly abstract and uncer­tain. Since Noah, sev­en thou­sand years ago, uni­ver­sal prin­ci­ples of good and evil are more or less defined. The prophet Noah had quot­ed them as being the “sev­en laws”. I don’t think it use­ful to list them for you. Then every mes­sen­ger, every prophet, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed passed on sim­i­lar things. Bud­dha’s five prin­ci­ples, Mani’s eight prin­ci­ples, Zarathus­tra’s teach­ing all repeat the same appeals, essen­tial­ly. Philoso­phers, learned ones, rev­o­lu­tion­ary lead­ers, just kings, artists, eru­dite ones…have called on sim­i­lar notions for the uni­ver­sal good for thou­sands of years. You have prob­a­bly built your “good” fol­low­ing the call that appealed to you, depend­ing on your nature. I rely on the sound­ness of your struc­ture and skip this part.

Let’s take a test

The state of being “well and good” I am speak­ing of, refers to your atti­tude today when fac­ing what is cur­rent. What is your atti­tude toward evil cur­rent­ly, in the present, this intense, sol­id and pure evil? Are you on the side of evil or of the good? Wait a minute! Is there not a cer­tain ambi­gu­i­ty here also? You are right. So, let’s be con­crete by pur­su­ing with a test. In the light of uni­ver­sal prin­ci­ples, with ques­tions rel­a­tive to our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, let’s do a bit of test­ing on our goodness.

  1. In your opin­ion, does the val­ue of peo­ple change depend­ing on whether they are Mus­lims, Chris­tians, Jews, Yazidis, Syr­i­acs, Ale­vis, Caferis, Shaafis, Athe­ists, etc. (Care­ful, I am not ask­ing if you feel per­son­al­ly close to them or not).
    A) Yes  B) No
  2. In your opin­ion, does the val­ue of peo­ple change depend­ing on whether they are Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Arme­ni­ans, Cir­cas­sians, Greeks, Bosni­acs, etc. (Care­ful, again I am not ask­ing if you feel per­son­al­ly close to them or not).
    A) Yes  B) No
  3. In your opin­ion, does the val­ue of peo­ple change depend­ing on whether or not they wear a scarf, or a beard, a mus­tache, a hat, a cap, a kip­pa, a tur­ban, bag­gy trousers, a miniskirt or have sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tions dif­fer­ent from yours? (Care­ful once again, I am not ask­ing if you feel per­son­al­ly close to them or not).
    A) Yes  B) No
  4. Are you against all types of vio­lence such as phys­i­cal, sex­u­al psy­cho­log­i­cal and eco­nom­ic vio­lence against women?
    A) Yes  B) No
  5. Are you against the exploita­tion of the work of employ­ees, their employ­ment in bad con­di­tions and mod­ern slavery
    A) Yes  B) No
  6. Are you against the destruc­tion of nature and ill treat­ment of animals?
    A) Yes  B) No
  7. Are you against such things as cor­rup­tion, favoritism, waste, and against the trans­fer of State resources to a few pro-gov­ern­ment contractors?
    A) Yes  B) No
  8. Are you against nom­i­na­tions on the basis of some­one’s belong­ing or not to the gov­ern­ment, rather than on the basis of merit?
    A) Yes  B) No
  9. Are you against injus­tice and the sub­or­di­na­tion of tri­bunals to polit­i­cal power?
    A)Yes  B) No
  10. Are you against the fact that media con­duct pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns with infor­ma­tion filled with slan­der and insults, that they pock­et bil­lions in their lynch­ing of inno­cents, that they praise pover­ty and that these media be entire­ly con­trolled by the government?
    A) Yes  B) No
  11. Are you against the fact of “not resolv­ing” prob­lems through weapons and vio­lence, when they could be resolved by talking?
    A) Yes  B) No
  12. Are you against the fact the State is led by a sin­gle person?
    A) Yes  B) No

The next elections will be between good and evil

I end my ques­tions here, you have well under­stood what my con­cerns are. So? Are you well and good? I don’t know for which sys­tem of gov­ern­ment you are, of which polit­i­cal par­ty you are a sym­pa­thiz­er, what reli­gion you prac­tice, what lan­guage you speak, but none of these choic­es define in my eyes if you are a good or an evil per­son. The sin­cere answers you pro­vide to the ques­tions above and oth­er sim­i­lar ones deter­mine if you are good or evil.

On this basis, I can say the fol­low­ing clear­ly: The next elec­tions will not be between polit­i­cal par­ties, iden­ti­ties or beliefs; they will be between the good and the evil.

If you are on the side of the good, then your posi­tion is clear: you have no need to be unde­cid­ed. There is some good and some evil in all par­ties, more or less. What I’m talk­ing about here is the fact that all those who are for the good assem­ble togeth­er and raise their voic­es. They must stand side by side, in round tables, in TV pro­grams, in demo­c­ra­t­ic ini­tia­tives and actions, and they must force all polit­i­cal par­ties into the alliance for the good. Con­cep­tu­al­ly, this could be called the “demo­c­ra­t­ic alliance”. Thus, we must lead soci­ety into the sit­u­a­tion of mak­ing a real choice. This is how we must call on the AKP and on its electorate.

Democracy will emerge from an alliance of differences

Today, oth­er dis­tinc­tions, oth­er polar­iza­tions make no sense, they are use­less or even harmful.

Above all, we must be good peo­ple, we must gath­er as good peo­ple and estab­lish the pow­er of good peo­ple. Then, we must spread good in all of soci­ety and make it per­ma­nent. By achiev­ing this we will be able to resolve all our prob­lems, eas­i­ly and peace­ful­ly. Then, we can com­plete­ly solve our hunger, our unem­ploy­ment and our lack of democ­ra­cy. Only in these cir­cum­stance will we be able to pre­pare a new con­sti­tu­tion, which is a social con­tract, and estab­lish peace.

So, I say: no mat­ter what they say about this on the out­side, don’t believe it, don’t fol­low it.

Hop­ing for help from an approach whose soul is dark­ened by evil and hatred would be a big mis­take. In all the col­ored polit­i­cal spec­trum, there must be at least one Par­ty that will rep­re­sent you cor­rect­ly. I would like to insist that you choose sole­ly in terms of those who favor the good. Don’t for­get that democ­ra­cy will emerge from an alliance of dif­fer­ences. Those who do not seek alliance, coop­er­a­tion, sol­i­dar­i­ty in the good, those who spread cor­rup­tion, those who impose their per­son­al expec­ta­tions and the peren­ni­ty of their Par­ty, rest assured, they are evil, they are on the side of evil.

Do not give cre­dence to emp­ty dis­cus­sions and ster­ile argu­ments. Lend your ear, not to those who say “me, I” but to those who say “we, all of us”. And, of course, be brave. Do not step back, even by a sin­gle step, from the demo­c­ra­t­ic and legit­i­mate strug­gle. And remind the fake Gestapo lead­ers, the pho­ny Goebbels: “Take your hands off the throat of the peo­ple and off Boğaz­içi!” 2. Remain calm, close your eyes and lis­ten to the voice of the uni­verse. You will hear a hum ris­ing from the depths. Do you know what it is? It is the wheel turn­ing. Even in space!

So let’s end on a song: 3

The morn­ing has an owner.
We will call [for accounts] one day, we will call.
Suf­fer­ings and woes will end.
We will bind [our wounds] one day, we will bind them.

Sela­hat­tin Demirtaş

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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